Tag Archives: hope

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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New Year’s Resolutions and and update on “Brian”

UPDATE: As many of you saw on social media, Caitlin LOVED the enormous Yeti bear! She has named him Brian much to my chagrin. I’ve never minded the name Brian, per say, but when my daughter tells me she’s going to “sleep on Brian tonight” it kinda wigs me out. She’ll understand in a few years so for now I keep my opinions to myself and let her sweet innocence prevail. She is so proud of this bear and anyone that has come into our home has had to go up to her room to see it for themselves. She and her friends spend hours in her room playing with him. “How do you play with a stuffed animal that big?” Well, from what I hear downstairs it sounds a lot like running and jumping on him. We’ll see how long he lasts. He takes up about half of her room so I’m wondering when the novelty of Brian will wear off. Hopefully not until college seeing that it took Caitlin, Kyle, and 4 of her friends to get him upstairs. I wished I had snapped a pic of THAT! If Ross Gellar were there, he would’ve been yelling, “PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT!” All in all, I think this will go down as her favorite Christmas ever. (The video of Caitlin seeing “Brian” on Christmas morning is at the bottom of this post in case you missed it on social media.)

Ok, moving on to the matter at hand.

New Year’s Resolutions.

Are you the kind of person that makes them every year? Or do you skip it so as not to feel bad about not keeping them by the end of January?

I used to never make resolutions but I’d say in the last 5 years or so, I’ve consistently made resolutions every year. Maybe “resolutions” isn’t the right word; I make goals at the beginning of the year. I think this is partly due to my husband. When Kyle got into sales many moons ago, he would make goals at the beginning of the year for work. Then it kind of turned into making personal goals also. Then he sold me on the idea that it’s important to write down your goals because it offers more accountability and you’re more likely to meet them, yada, yada, yada. He’s a brilliant sales guy.

My goals for 2016 were to publish 2 books and floss every day. I met one of those and the other, well, it lasted until March. And I just heard a couple of months ago on the news that some dentists came out and said flossing doesn’t really matter. I highly doubt the validity of that but it makes me feel better about not flossing.

I remember one year writing like 2 pages worth of resolutions/goals in my journal. Bless. I had personal goals, writing goals, parenting goals, marriage goals, financial goals, and the list went on and on. And many of them started with “Every day I will ________________.” This is failure waiting to happen. The only thing I can actually guarantee I will do every day is eat, sleep, and breathe.

This year I’m keeping it simple. My goals this year are short and sweet. They are fairly trivial in nature and one of them even has a time cap. Drum roll please…

  1. Use only my iPhone calendar and get rid of the paper calendar.
  2. Write more consistently (2 blog posts a week)
  3. No social media for the month of January.

That’s it. And I will tell you the first one will be the hardest for me. I adore a paper calendar! I like to see my whole month laid out because the more I see it; the more likely I am to remember it. Alas, I’m making more appointments on the go and it would be easier if all my junk were in one place. So for any of you planning anything with me that requires me to show up, I would be so appreciative of some grace if I forget. Changing systems is HARD. It’s like re-training my brain and this old brain isn’t good with new tricks.

As for #2, writing more consistently helps my writing to become better and generates more ideas, so setting a goal to do it more seems like a no-brainer.

And the “no social media in January” is for my mental health. I need a few less voices in my head so I can hear my own. And since I won’t be on social media, I won’t be posting as much about when I have something new on the blog. If you want to get my blog posts sent straight to your email so you don’t miss any, just sign up here! A good way to contact me in January (and all the time) would be via email: courtneypallen216@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you guys!

2017 is gonna be a stellar year. I can feel it in my bones!

As promised, here’s the video!

-Courtney

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What’s the book about?

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Today I wanted to take a minute and tell you a little more about Ollie. If you’re new to this blog or don’t follow me on social media, Ollie is the main character of my latest children’s book, The Forgotten Ornament. This sweet little gingerbread man ornament is trying to get on his family’s beloved Christmas tree. He’s been stuck at the bottom of the ornament box for many, many years and thinks this might be his last shot at making the tree. The story goes on to tell of him trying to get to the top of the box and the other ornaments he encounters along the way. I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the ending but just know that it’s a story of hope. And I feel like we could all use a little more hope these days.

When I wrote Rooster’s Balloon, every time I signed it I would write Jeremiah 29:11 under my signature.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Little Rooster’s story was one of hope. God had a plan for her life and her story.

When I sign The Forgotten Ornament, I write Proverbs 13:12 under my signature.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Ollie has hope that he will make it on the Christmas tree because somewhere deep inside he knows that he is loved and worthy.

I love hope. It’s my absolute favorite. And the only reason I have it is because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He came to live the life I couldn’t live and die the death I deserved. And just when it couldn’t get much bleaker, He rose from the dead to show the world He was the actual Son of God who could not be held by death. He overcame our sin to  prove He was/is the only one Who can save us. And He did all these things because of His deep-rooted love for me. For us. For everyone who believes. And dangit, if that doesn’t fill me to the brim with hope. Hope that God uses people to do good things. Hope that even though Americans are a little shaky at best right now, it’s going to be ok. Hope that God has used leaders and authorities from the beginning of time to carry out His plan. It may not be the way we would choose but His ways are not our ways.

As long as I write, hope will always be a theme. So if you need a little more hope in your life or just a sweet read for your kiddos, this book is a must for your library. Every kid needs to know they are loved just the way they are and Ollie is a wonderful example of that. It’s got a great message for your little one and it might just have a message for you too. Just click the PURCHASE tab at the top of this page to buy one…or 100. I’m fine with either. 200? Ok, you’ve twisted my arm.

-Courtney

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Where is your hope today?

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I’ve got great news…

The election is OVER and the world did not implode!!!

If it makes you feel better, God is not surprised nor has His plan changed because of the results of the election. He’s not up there thinking, “Oh shoot, I really didn’t think Trump was going to actually WIN. What do I do now? I’m completely out of ideas! And my goodness, the praying?! People I haven’t heard from in years are praying for America. Sheesh. I’m so tired of listening to their whining. I’m only the God of the universe, how can they expect me to know what to do? Do I have to take care of EVERYTHING for them??”

I’m so grateful that the God I serve isn’t pacing and wringing His hands over the state of our country. We sometimes forget that He lives in perfect peace with His plan. He knows we do not and He’s gracious enough to share that peace with us when we ask for it. (Phil. 4:6-7)

I think many of us have forgotten where our hope is found. I don’t know about you but I don’t place a lot of hope in our government. The corruption and nastiness inside our government has taught me it is not a safe place to put something I treasure so much. Our God is the only person who is fit to hold my eternal hope. I didn’t realize it until the other day, but creation also hopes in the Lord. Who knew creation could hope?

“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,

O God of our salvation,

the hope of all the ends of the earth

and of the farthest seas;

the one who by his strength established

the mountains,

being girded with might;

who stills the roaring of the seas,

the roars of their waves,

the tumult of the peoples,

so that those who dwell in the ends of

the earth are in awe at your signs.

You make the going out of the morning

and the evening to shout for joy.”   Ps. 65:5-8

Yes, creation knows that the One to put your hope in is the person who established the mountains, stills the seas, and keeps the sun rising and setting every day. He has more power than any president of any country. So when we feel tempted to fear, let’s keep our focus on Who’s actually in charge. When we feel tempted to say ugly things, let’s consider that it was always Christ’s kindness that drew people in. When we feel tempted to let bitterness take control, let’s remember our marching orders as believers in Christ: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor. Then go make disciples. It’s extremely difficult to convince people you “love your neighbor” when you are actively spewing hate about them. If you are a Republican, the Democrats are your neighbors. If you are a Democrat, the Republicans are your neighbors. To be clear, I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone else. So let’s remember today that we may not all agree on the issues, but we are ALL neighbors. Christ died for every single one of us and none of us is better than the other. God loves the people we disagree with just as much as He loves us. So let’s keep our snarky remarks to ourselves and treat one another a little more gently today.

-Courtney

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Ollie’s HERE!!!!!!!!!

HE’S HERE! HE’S HERE! OLLIE IS HERE!!!!

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This little guy has been on the quite the journey to make it here but he made it! I can’t wait for you to meet little Ollie and his friends. They are so dear and I know your kids will love them. So if you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, godchildren, or children you even mildly like, GET THEM THIS BOOK!!! Such a fun little book for the Christmas season which, if you don’t know…is here. I say it’s here because I was at Target yesterday and they had Christmas décor aligning some of their shelves. Guys, it’s still October, but as I learned this week, there are only 9 MORE SATURDAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! This is ludicrous!!

BUT….

If you go ahead and buy this book it can be an early Christmas gift for the little ones in your life. It might be the only time you’re early this year so jump on the Ollie train and BUY A BOOK TODAY so I can empty some of these boxes.

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Just click on the PURCHASE tab at the top of the blog and get it done. Boom.

And just for fun, here’s a video of me with my books. At some parts in the video, my face is enormous. My sincerest apologies.

Ollie’s first video

-Courtney

PS If you never got the chance to buy my other book, Rooster’s Balloon, that one is also available for purchase!

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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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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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It was a big day…

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This story, you guys. There are so many feelings inside this story. So many prayers and tears have gone into this story. I don’t want to give it all away before it’s ready to be released but I’m just so excited I can’t stand it! This is just the proof copy for me to look over but I wanted to give you a sneak peek of the cover! I MEAN. So cute, right?!? I can’t even handle it. And the inside? Oh the inside is a masterpiece. I can say that because I didn’t illustrate it myself. If it were my handiwork, we’d be seeing a LOT of stick people. Ya’ll it’s so good. Your kids are going to love it because it’s got pretty pictures. YOU are going to love it because of the message. You will not necessarily WANT to read your kids this book but you NEED to. Trust me on this. I’ll give you more details as the release date gets closer. I can’t give away all the goodies on the front end! It’s my ploy to get you to come back to the ol bliggidy! Painfully clever, I know. I promise to keep you updated and, more importantly, let you know when it’s coming out!!!! EEEEEKS!!!!

-Courtney

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Dancing with Fear

Fear. It’s a powerful feeling. For me, it’s probably second only to love. It has the ability to cripple me if I choose to let it. It gives me thousands of excuses as to why I don’t need to chase dreams or do anything out of my comfort zone. Fear is a bully. Fear digs deep inside of me and plants seeds of doubt and anxiety so they will grow roots and attempt to strangle hopes and dreams that are planted deep down as well. Something interesting that I’m finding as I am chasing something God dreamed up a few years ago, is that hopes and fears are not mutually exclusive. They don’t have to be separate. They can coexist in my life and create enough tension to propel me forward. Hope is supernatural. There is no other reason for hope except that God placed it in our hearts through Christ. Fear is human. We fear because we are human beings that aren’t in control.

This year, 2016, I’m resolving to marry hope and fear in my life in order to give birth to courage. Courage doesn’t come in absence of fear nor can it come without hope. I must have both as a means to practice courage. Without fear, the dream is too easy and without hope I would be crushed under the weight my fear. I need both.

Some of you know, some of you don’t, that I have been trying to publish a children’s book in the last year. It has given me all the feelings. ALL OF THEM. It’s getting close to being finished and printed and I couldn’t be more excited/scared/humbled that this little story is coming full circle. I will tell you more as it gets closer to releasing but for now, I’m trying to live in the tension of hope and fear.

Much of this revelation came from a song I heard this year. It’s become one of my favorites and I hope you like it too. It’s by Ben Rector who is amazing and wonderful and talented and entertaining in concert. Appropriately the song is called “Fear.” My favorite line of the song says,

“I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from.”

This line spoke straight to my soul. Dancing with my fear. I’d never considered that I could do that. Thanks, Ben. If you have a couple of minutes, give it a listen. As a matter of fact, listen to the whole album. It’s well worth your time.

Here’s to doing things that require courage this year. Why not do something that seems scary and uncomfortable just to see how it turns out? More times than not, these are the things that grow us more into the people we want to become. On a side note, my family gave up desserts for the month of January and this is VERY SCARY. I don’t recommend courage in the form of “no desserts”; this is lunacy.

-Courtney

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