Tag Archives: God

Quit Shoulding Yourself!

I was keeping the nursery at church last Sunday and one of the guys that volunteers with me said something that made me laugh, but also made me ponder. He said it jokingly after his wife made a comment about something she should do. He said, “Stop shoulding yourself!” If you say the phrase out loud it may make you chuckle, but it made me think, “Man, isn’t that the truth?”

Want to know what the word “should” does? It’s a good intention that carries a backpack full of shame.

“I should really take them dinner. They’ve been through a lot lately.”

“I should do a bible study.”

“I should really start to work out more.”

“I should start eating healthy so I can lose some weight.”

“I should really call ________ and catch up.”

“I should start memorizing Bible verses.”

“I should volunteer.”

“I should learn a new skill.”

“I should be more intentional about spending time with my husband.”

“I should ________________…”

The list could go on for infinity, am I right?

When did we start living lives of “should dos”? I have a feeling it’s when we started comparing ourselves to other people; so basically it’s been going on forever, but social media has really amped it up. We see pictures of people starting amazing organizations. We see couples going on dates. We see people organizing their lives. We see people growing their businesses. We see parents doing fun things with their kids. We see people having quiet times. We see people in yoga poses. We see it all. The best of every person. Everything. And none of it is bad, but when we start thinking our lives are supposed to look like someone else’s, or really everyone else’s, that’s when it gets sticky. And shouldy. When we consider what we should do, it’s normally based on what someone said we should do or saw someone else doing. Don’t you love it when you tell someone something and they say back, “Well, you know what you should do is….” It’s like unsolicited advice on how to live your life. As if they’re some sort of expert on you. But dangit if I don’t do it too. We have good intentions, we really do, but sometimes people don’t want to be fixed; they’d rather someone just listen. Sometimes we just want to be loved for who we are not what we do. Social media has led us to believe if we’re not doing something amazing with our lives for all the world to see, then our lives must not be post worthy. This is crap.

To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing with my life. Anyone else live with that uncertainty? Does it consume your thoughts on the daily? Or is it only there when you get quiet right before you go to sleep? It can send you into a tailspin quick as a whip. Many of us just block/busy it out all together so we don’t have to go to that part of our soul. The shoulds can weigh us down and make us feel inadequate in so many parts of our lives that I get why we don’t want to address it. But if we don’t address it, we risk living a life where we don’t value ourselves and how God made us.

I don’t know much, but one thing I’ve learned in the last few months is living underneath “shoulding shame” is not living at all. It’s a life sucking existence. If we ever want to know what God wants us to do, I can guarantee it’s not live with a backpack full of shame bricks. That is not the life He has called us to. He did not send Jesus to the cross so we could spend our lives living in shame.

“But you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know my thought life. You don’t know my past sins. I try to be a good person but I keep screwing it up. I’ve never done anything with my life. I’m just a regular person; a nobody, really.”

Maybe these statements are how you feel about yourself. We say nastier things to ourselves than we do our worst enemies. We are so unkind to ourselves. We know God loves us but we have a hard time believing that don’t we?

We know the gospel is: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him we have eternal life.

But we live like: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him and do a lot of good things and are really good Christians, we have eternal life.

Nope. Not the gospel.

The beauty of the gospel is it leaves out all the shoulds. And do you know what happens when you live without the shoulds? You’re free. You are free to live, knowing you’re beloved by the God who created you. And guess what:  He loves you for no other reason than He created you.

In Psalms 139:14, it says:

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

God made us wonderfully from the beginning. He knew us. He hemmed us in. He saw our unformed substance. He laid His hand upon us. He is a good Father who loves His kids. Our souls know it very well.

Quit shoulding yourself. Live with the knowledge that you are loved. When we live like we’re loved, we can begin living a life of want to, instead of should do.

When’s the last time you just sat and let God love on you? If you don’t know how to let God love on you, go read Psalm 139. I pray it leaves you feeling loved, known, and near to the Father.

-Courtney

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To the parents of teenagers

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To the parents of teenagers,

I owe all of you an apology. I was naïve. I was proud. I spoke of that which I did not know. I would listen as you talked about your teen with desperation in your voice at how they had somehow changed overnight. They were now these angsty, hormonal humans who could cut you with their eyes and under their breath mumblings. The looks. The sarcasm. The eye rolls. Honestly, I judged you. I would never have said anything out loud, but in my mind I thought, “Well, maybe if you talked to them more. Maybe if you monitored their every move more. Maybe if you taught them about Jesus more…”

Bless my little heart.

What can I say? I had no idea. I broke the Mom code. I judged you without having walked in your shoes. I’m so ashamed I had these thoughts that it was something YOU did to make your teenager live on the brink of emotional breakdown at all times. I thought you had some control over their stubborn will and annoyed sighing. What did you do to make them stomp off and curse you under their breath?

Oh, it’s called you were being a GOOD parent? But I thought it felt good to be a good parent.

Lies. If someone tells you they are slaying this parenting thing and they never really have any issues with their kids, they’re either liars or really bad parents. You are allowed to feel like an amazing parent for one hot minute. That’s it. You get one minute when all your kids are good and you’re good and your marriage is good, then something will fall apart. It’s SCIENCE.

Maybe I’m writing this to make myself feel better since I’m on the cusp of having a teenager myself. Moods are changing, eyes are being rolled, and general annoyance is heightened. It’s coming. I feel it in my bones and I need to know grace exists when my kid is the one screwing it up. I’m going to be the one needing handholding from those brave mamas that have gone before me. I will need reminding that my identity is not in the hands of my children; it’s in the hands of the God who made me. And my children’s identity isn’t in my hands. I don’t need to be making them into who I want them to be; I should be praying for them and giving them the freedom to be who God wants them to be. That last statement…that’s the hard one. Giving them freedom. The constant questioning of when to give them slack on the rope and when to reign them in is a doubt-filled struggle. And if I’m not going to get it right every time, how can I expect them to always make the right choices? Oh mamas, how do we do this? What are we to do with these children who are turning into adults? We pray. We cry. We open our hands and return to God what was His all along. This is when we begin to trust God with our kids, and when we remember He’s writing their story.

Maybe I’m writing this so I will remember that very thing. He’s writing their story just like He’s writing mine.

Sheesh.

Now I know why no one tells you about actual parenting at your baby shower. Mothers everywhere would be Googling “How to keep your baby in utero longer.” I think I need a “teenager shower” where older, wiser moms can come over and give me advice/condolences about the teenage years. And instead of diapers, everyone just brings me $20 because THESE HUMANS COST SO MUCH MONEY!!!!

Anyone else watching their children turn into little adults before their very eyes?

-Courtney

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How do we increase our faith?

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(Old Testament trash talk)

You know when God teaches you something in his Word and you just want to share it? This is one of those posts because it’s my blog and I can do what I want to.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel lately because it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible because, well, David. I can’t help but love the guy. Anyway, I get to the story of David and Goliath and God showed me something in that story that I never knew. Don’t you love when God does that? He takes a story you’ve heard since childhood and makes you see it in a completely new way.

I always assumed David was afraid, even though I knew he volunteered to fight Goliath. Like he was shaking in his sandals and no armor, but God gave him the courage to slay the giant. After reading the text, I’m not so sure that was the case.

“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” 1 Sam. 17:48 ESV (emphasis mine)

He RAN QUICKLY. Basically he sprinted to meet Goliath, A GIANT, at the battle line. Scared people don’t sprint to meet their enemies. People who are fearful enter into battle carefully, with a well thought out plan. They may have summoned the courage to fight but they’re still sweating bullets when they enter onto the battlefield. No one shows up for a fight with a slingshot and a few little rocks and no armor to fight his opponent who is fully armed.

No one but David.

Was he just young and naïve? Rebel without a cause? Was he a teenager that thought he was going to live forever? Nope.

He was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would deliver the people of Israel. He was betting his very life on it. See, we have to back up a little in the story to understand why David would have such confidence. Earlier in the passage, Saul is trying to talk David out of fighting Goliath, reminding him he’s just a boy and Goliath is a man trained for war.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Sam. 17:34-37 ESV)

Oh, I’m sorry, did it say LIONS and BEARS? When hearing this story as a child I’m envisioning cartoon lions and bears. Like Simba and Baloo. It didn’t even seem real at the time. As an adult, if you told me my teenage son would be fighting off lions and bears to protect our families’ sheep, I would have a heart attack. Literally. I would also tell him to go ahead and say goodbye to sweet lamby because his mama ain’t gonna let him fight no wild animal. What kind of person fights lions and bears to save one little lamb? The person who has something to protect and, in this case, a person who knows he cannot lose.

David goes on to say:

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)

Whoop there it is. David remembered.

How did David know God would help him defeat Goliath? Because He had done it before against lions and bears. David remembered God’s faithfulness to him in the past, which gave David faith for the present. David was certain of God’s faithfulness to him. He knew he was beloved by the Father and that the Father would protect him and deliver the people of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Oh to have that kind of faith! The kind that assures me that I can do the hard, scary things and God will show up. He always shows up for His kids.

Want to increase your faith? Remember a time when God has been faithful to you. Recall a time He came to your rescue. God is always faithful even when we are not. We are his beloved sheep that He gave His own Son’s life to save…before we even knew him.

We would do well to face our giants like David.

RUN QUICKLY to the battle line.

REMEMBER God’s past faithfulness.

BE CERTAIN of victory.

This is how we face our fears. This is how we move mountains. We may not win the battle every time. We may very well crash and burn. This doesn’t mean God didn’t show up. It just means He has other plans. There is much to learn when we feel we’ve been defeated and we take that with us as we go into our next battle. My internal victories are far more significant than my outward successes by a long shot. I think when God spoke of the “work He has planned for us” (Eph. 2:10), much of it was on ourselves, in our hearts. And rest easy, God has already slain the enemy. Victory is oursWhat’s the mountain facing you?

-Courtney

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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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Growing Pains and Autumn

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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

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“Lord, help”

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(image cred:: Pinterest)

Lord, help. This is how the writing is starting off today. Seems like a good, desperate place to start, doesn’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed this prayer. I pray this a lot. It’s basically my Hail Mary/last ditch prayer when I don’t know what to pray.

Lord, help.

When life gives me unexpected news, unexpected frustrations, unexpected pitfalls—Lord, help.

Lots of times I feel bad about praying this. I mean, I’m a writer, shouldn’t I come up with something more eloquent to say to the God of the universe? Something more writery? (Writery…it’s a word. Trust me, I’m a writer ;)) Shouldn’t my prayers be something more, I don’t know, lengthy? Lord, help. Sometimes I just say it over and over wishing I had more words but failing to find them.

There’s something about this little prayer that brings me to the place God always wants me: Surrender. When I choose surrender, it allows me to embrace the peace that comes with knowing God is in control. I so badly want to be in control of my life and everything that happens, but if God allowed that, there would be no room for Him. I spend so much of my life trying to make sure things go smoothly–for me, for Kyle, for my kids—I sometimes forget I’m not actually the one in charge. The thing is, when I’m in charge and ultimately fail, it’s all on me. The failure is mine and I get to carry the weight of it. This creates something toxic inside of me: shame. Not healthy shame. Toxic shame. The shame that tells me I can’t do anything right. I will never be good at ___________. I’m too forgetful. If only I were more like __________, then this wouldn’t happen. I’m the worst mom/wife/friend/________ ever. Ice cream. Ice cream would make me feel better. (After finishing ice cream) I’m so fat, why can’t I stop eating ice cream? Another failure. I’ll never be as thin as ___________. She’s probably the perfect mom/wife/friend. And down and down I go into the shame vortex. It’s crippling carrying all that shame. Lord, help.

The times that I can wrap my head around the fact that God is in control and I am not, something amazing happens. I am free. I’m free to screw up and let it roll off because I know my self-worth is not determined by my ability to get all the things done. I’m here to tell you surrender is where it’s at, friends. Knowing that your productivity/efficiency don’t hold your value and worth is freedom.

But what about the unexpected circumstance that is not necessarily “our fault?” You know the things I’m talking about: the sudden death, the diagnosis, the accident, the divorce, all those things we don’t see coming. What then? Lord, help. If I had my way, none of those things would be allowed to happen. Those are the hard things. But you wanna know something? Without those things, I may never see my need for Jesus. I might never come before His throne, on my knees, begging, “Lord, help!” I wouldn’t cry out. I wouldn’t plead. Life would be easy and I would never live a life any deeper than what you could see on the surface. I would never experience true joy because I had never endured sorrow. I would never experience grace because I wouldn’t have a need for it. This would be an obscene waste of a life because grace…sigh. Grace is the most pure, intoxicating, and overwhelming thing to receive. It breathes life into dead souls. It is a good gift from a good Father. God is constantly making beauty from ashes sometimes we just have to be patient and wait for it.

The truth is we need help. Whether it’s help to check off our to-do list or help to breath in and out after receiving devastating news, we just need help. Why not go before the One who is known for being a Helper (Ps. 54:4)?

While “Lord, help” may be short in length, I think it is more than sufficient at communicating what we need.

And if you’re from the South, sometimes it comes out, “Lawd, help.” This is also perfectly acceptable 😉

Is there any place in your life you could use a little help?

-Courtney

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So here’s my thing with worship music…

I love it but my mind wanders.

Please tell me you know what I’m talking about?

Hear me on this, I LOVE worship songs. I love the build up to the chorus, I love the feeling I get when my mind, heart, and spirit connect with the words. It’s an awe-filled experience. But here’s the deal: After singing the same words 9 times over, I start disconnecting with the song and my mind begins to dart off. I’m still committed to singing but my brain is thinking about what I need to get at the grocery store, did I remember to start the washer, will I have time to take a nap when I get home, I’ve got to finish filling out school registration forms, etc.

If I can catch myself doing this, I immediately feel guilty and remorseful and try to concentrate on the words of the song. Then by the 12th chorus, I’m looking around at other people making mental notes of how they’re worshipping, what they’re wearing, and a myriad of other thoughts. I begin studying people’s worship stance. Do they sway? Do they raise their hands? Are their eyes closed? All indicative of a super spiritual experience obviously because one would NEVER close her eyes, sway, and sing worship songs while going over her to-do list.

Oh wait.

Except that I do.

Wanna know my favorite worship music? Old hymns put to hipper music. I grew up in the Baptist church where hymns were sung every Sunday with a full orchestra. Back then I didn’t appreciate all 137 stanzas of Just As I Am or all the seeming monotony of I Surrender All. (Side note:: Did anyone else’s church only sing certain stanzas? I loved when the music minister would announce that we would be singing stanzas 1, 2, and 4. Does he make these decisions? What makes him pick those specific stanzas? Are some stanzas more spiritual than others? So many questions…I digress.) As an adult, though, I can see so much value in these beautiful hymns. When my church arranges an old hymn to updated music, I tend to marvel over the depths of these songs. There are many stanzas but the power in the words is evident. I think it’s because I have to focus on the words more because there are so many of them. I’m not hating on worship music of today but let’s be real, if I can learn the song in 90 seconds, I will be mentally checked out in approximately 5 minutes. The words I’m singing will be just that, words. I won’t be connecting the song if I’m saying the same 4 lines repeatedly for 10 minutes in a room full of people.

Maybe that makes me spiritually ADD.

Maybe that means I need to work on my relationship with God.

Or maybe that just tells me corporate worship is not where I connect with God.

To be honest, I find that my most authentic worship happens when I’m alone. When I’m alone, I don’t think about what’s going on around me. I can listen to a worship song and it will be over in 3 minutes and 49 seconds, then I can pick another worship song that says different words about the God I love. Some of you reading this may have no idea what this blog post even means. You love singing the same worship song for many minutes in a row because it makes you feel closer to God. I’m so glad for you. For those of you that might be like me, don’t feel bad that we’re ADD worshippers. Maybe we just need more different words to connect. And that’s the beauty of God’s family…He takes all kinds of kinds.

Anybody with me?

-Courtney

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What Anxiety and Fear tell me

 

Publishing a book and marketing it feels like I’m standing in a fire. To say it makes me “uncomfortable” would be the understatement of my life. Social media is easy; I can sit and hide behind my computer and promote the book all the livelong day. Doing a signing, or a reading, or most recently, a radio show, gives me the sweats and the gags. On my way to any of these events, I sweat and feel tingly all over and fear I might pass out. It’s in these moments that I pray as profusely as I sweat. Asking God for help, guidance, words, anything that will ease my current condition. I have never been more aware of my need for God’s presence and peace in my life. It has occurred to me over the last month that God will not lead us into a fire where He Himself will not go. Sometimes fire is where we find God. Growth in my faith has never happened when my life has been easy. I love easy, but my problem is that easy makes me real proud of myself. I get puffed up and think my life is working out this way because I did something to make it this way. No, you misguided little thing, you had nothing to do with it at all.

So as much as I love a cake life, it’s not where God is. God is in the hard places and if I want to be with Him, I’ve got to go there too. Right now, God, in my life, is sitting squished between Anxiety and Fear and He’s calling me to meet Him there. God is sitting smack dab in the middle of the 2 things in my life that tell me I CAN’T. I don’t like sitting in between Anxiety and Fear; they’re bullies and they lie. They tell me my nerves WILL get the best of me. They tell me I WILL screw it up. They tell me that no one wants to hear what I have to say. They tell me all the same things they’ve told me before. Their central message is: You aren’t good enough to do the things you want to do so you shouldn’t even try.

But God.

But God tells me in Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

Then I’m reminded of what God’s word says about work in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

How can I believe the lies of Anxiety and Fear when God clearly tells me that He will help me? He’s also told me that I am His handiwork and He’s got stuff for me to do here. Who am I to say His handiwork, His creation, is not good enough to do His work? If He created me to do it, He must feel pretty confident that with His help, I can accomplish the task set before me.

Then God reminds me of the most important thing: It’s not about me at all, it’s about Him. It’s my responsibility to obey. That’s it. The successes or failures of my pursuits in life aren’t measured by the world. My successes and failures are measured by whether or not I choose to follow His leading. The minute I judge success by the world’s standards is the minute my soul gets antsy and full of unrest. This is when I try to take over and make my pursuits just that—MY pursuits. When I assume all responsibility for a task, one of two things will happen. I will either get prideful because I’m experiencing some success or I will feel shame because I’m experiencing failure. Pride or shame. These are my options when I’m in charge.

When I take the time to remember that my only job is to say “yes” and He’ll take care of the rest, I’m able to breath. I still sweat of course, but I like to think of it as fear leaving my body. It’s really unfortunate I have so much fear leaving my underarms; I may never wear colored clothing again. It’s freeing to be able to hand the pressure over to God and say “Here, this is on you now.” Unlike us, God has never felt pressure in His entire existence. He’s not worried that we’re going to screw up His work. We don’t have the whole story so what may look like failure to us, may just be God writing humility, not shame, into our story. For the record, these are my least favorite writing segments from the Lord but they are awfully good teachers.

So that’s where I’m at, guys. Right in between Fear and Anxiety, waiting for God to quiet their shouting.

 

Where is God sitting in your life?

-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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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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