Tuesday, December 4, 2012


There's been so much God can teach you about childlike faith when you are around littles. An older man came to fix our fridge the other day. He took one look at P and commented, "Oh, this one just hatched!" I laughed at the Andy Griffith-like quality and tone of this man dressed in overalls.

He pinned my baby though. She had just hatched. She's so fresh to life and this world and well, everything.

Last night, as P took a break from feeding, she was so sleepy she dropped her head a little. Josh walked by and joked that she was hanging her head---saying she was sorry she kept us up so long the night before. I joked back-- "Yeah, she feels guilty about that."

As soon as the words were said, I realized just how impossible that would be. She has no idea how to feel guilty. She couldn't feel it if she tried.

So today I'm questioning myself before I allow myself feel guilty about things unmerited of guilt. I'm noticing I think and feel guilty it more often than I thought. And so again, a fresh breeze of hope comes as I take note of a truth about how to have faith like a child: A baby cannot know guilt. 

The same is true for a child of God. No matter what kaleidoscope Satan puts in front of you. You are a child of God in which there is no condemnation.

Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pumpkin, Spice, and the Latte of Life

Thoughts to consider on the first day of fall...

Barbara's glass pumpkin candy dish served as the true icon of fall for the counseling center staff at HFBC.  No yardage of fall garland could top the decor of the scattered styrofoam cups in the office filled with the winning combination of -- candy corn and peanuts.

One of the main reasons I'm in love with fall is that it reminds me of being in love. Josh and I had our first date in October, we had a pivotal point in our relationship the next fall and in the following "football season," we were engaged.

But there's more to what makes this part of the year a romance. Just like the candy corn and peanuts...
I find it's the blend of intense sweet and stark salt that make it. Much like our draw to fall must come from the contrast of unbearable Houston heat one day and a literal breath of crisp air the next.

Dichotomy drives us.

Sweet, genuine times with the Lord bring your heart to grieve over what breaks His.

Tragedy in a family can bring brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers closer---in a way that "perfect times" just won't allow.

And trials bring us through spiritual scenery we would have otherwise missed.

You don't see many people celebrate fall with a can of pumpkin and a spoon. But you see many people giddy with their fingers wrapped carefully around a cup of pumpkin mixed with sugar and spice, coffee and creamer.

It's our human nature to welcome new seasons. I know it's usually my bend to wish for all-sweet stuff in life. But I'm reminded today that the contrast is necessary because it is really what enriches and warms our lives the most.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-3

Friday, August 31, 2012

Paisley's Arrival

Well, who would have thought...

that the last post would be so timely...

Let's back up to Friday, July 20.

This was one of the "last trips to the pool as a family" I talked about earlier. My OB, Dr. Cole, called after hours on Friday and told me she thought it would be best if we induced. Since I have felt God's guidance with her as my physician from the very beginning, I trusted her wisdom on this. I was a little hesitant about taking P early...would she be ready? Dr. Cole assured me 39 weeks was far along enough and induction would give me the best chance to avoid similar complications I had with Hunter. Ok! She told me to "get out our calendars" and look at a date. Yikes!

Of course, in my mind, I immediately thought of which "day" had a ring to it. July 26th always stood out as a day that sounded equally charming and cheerful. But that would have been too early. I wanted P to wait as long as possible. The month of July also had a ring to it...such a happy month of casual celebrations and happy memories from my childhood. So, when Dr. Cole suggested July 30th for induction, I was sold. Family immediately put "Paisley's birthday" on the calendar, etc.

And so, the blog post before this was born. Mini-dates and memories with Hunter followed. Treasured times.

Wednesday, July 25th, I wrote the blog post about Hunter and me during his nap time. I also sent an important email to a friend, watched "Giada at Home" (which, for me, the was the first daytime television I'd watched period for about a century). I felt the Lord tug me to get my full nap in today while Hunter was asleep. This was difficult! I did go to sleep eventually (after the blog, some Giada and the email). You'll see why this was so important that I obey God fully later! I believe in full-disclosure blogging--as much as it might benefit the reader--so I'm sharing some of my faults here~ :)

My mom came in that night to go get pedicures before Paisley came. I really wanted to go to the hospital with pretty feet. Which is funny, when you consider I wore those silly rubber-soled socks the whole time. But by-golly-- I knew underneath those socks were some pretty Strawberry Margarita pink toes!

I also strongly felt God tell me to go to bed early that night. Like at 10. Hmmm.. After the pedis, this should have been easy. Mom decided to go ahead and stay the night at our house. But after dinner I found out she had never seen the movie, Baby Mama. No further explanation needed. That was the first diversion to going to bed early. We didn't finish the movie because I knew I needed sleep and I had one more thing I wanted to finish before going to bed that night...

Earlier in July, I received some constructive critique on my manuscript, and that Wednesday night, I had literally a handful of edits before I could send it back to my contact. After finishing those, the send button was pushed, and I went to bed. Actually, I was in the bed when I pushed the send button. My computer hadn't given me official send/receive confirmation yet, but I knew I had to just put the computer down and go to sleep--- it was 11 pm.

On a side note, a few days ago (mid-August)-- I was listening to an audio lecture on "Time Management for Writers" by Nick Harrison from Harvest House publishing. One of his suggestions was to carry around a notepad to collect quotes, observations, ideas you collect as you go throughout your day. At the very end of his session, he laughed and said although he carries it wherever he goes, he doesn't expect you to bring it to the labor and delivery room of the hospital or anything! Yeah. If I had read this last month, I would have laughed right along with him. 

Except the way it worked out...I almost did just that

Because just 4 short hours later, my contractions began. Josh didn't really believe me. Or better stated he was in denial because 1) he didn't want to get out of bed and 2) he didn't want to get to the hospital before Dr. Cole would be the doctor on duty. Contractions 3 minutes apart. Consistently. Then 2 minutes and 40 seconds a part. I tried to convinced Josh this was really it. He asked if he could take a shower, to which I gladly said yes. I mean, I still had to put on my makeup and use the Chi, so of course he had time.

I woke up my mom. She was shocked we were really going, but so thrilled. Over the next few hours and many iphone keystrokes later, and a Sleepless in Seattle-type map could have tracked the happy, not-typically awake, Paisley supporters spanning the miles!

I stood around our kitchen island. (Hanging on for dear life every few minutes is more like it). I'll never forget my mom asking me, the one whose had her bags backed for weeks, if I remembered to bring a "focus picture" for labor. No. A few more no's followed. How could I have forgotten so many items? I thought I was so prepared! Just then, Josh ran into the kitchen from my office--a little out of breath. "Just so you know," he said,  "your email from last night went through." Leave it to Josh to give me peace about something totally unrelated and yet what he knew to be very important to me. Mom literally tossed a small picture frame to me with a pic of Josh and me from UMHB's college formal dance night for my focus picture. And off we went.

I was so glad we went when we did. Not only did my contractions get worse and worse, but after I got a room at the hospital, I found out there were several Mary and Joseph's in the very full hospital. We got the last available bed.

Josh still couldn't believe this was real. When the nurse told me I was at a 6 and confirmed my contractions were very steady and consistent, he asked her, "So, I guess this means we are staying and not you're not going to send us home?" I'm sure she looked at him a little funny, and I just started laughing. I think he just really wanted to be sure I wasn't going to have to labor hours on end when I could be at home because as soon as he got this affirmation from the nurse--he went to the restroom and changed into his new "Coach/Team Strong" shirt. We were officially ready.

Things after that went fast. Dr. S came in for the epidural at 6:30. Thankfully, he looked NOTHING like Ben Stiller this time (readers from www.scrunchordiffuse.blogspot.com who read Hunter's L&D story will appreciate this reference).

At this point, I want to share that in my last few weeks of pregnancy, God nudged me to pray for specific things I desired about the delivery process. He knew I was anxious about the epidural and I also really did not know how the complications from last time would come into play. I prayed for both of these items -- very specifically. This prayer pattern was inspired in part from Mark Batterson's book, The Circle Maker, which addresses the importance and life-giving quality of of praying "specifics." I'm not saying I said some magic words or anything, all I'm saying is God heard my prayers. The epidural had a rough patch (more my own anxiety than any problems), but it was successful and seamless. And the trouble I had last time in my delivery and recovery which could have easily been repeated, did not happen at all. Miracle. And now that I look at it, isn't it perfect the word "miracle" is almost an eclectic combo of the words "circle" and "maker"? Something to consider.

The doctors kept checking me. I had some nausea and my blood pressure dropped, but both the nurses were able to get under control. At about 10:30, the nurses were surprised that it was already time. They called Dr. Cole in quickly! This time, we were all in denial. What? She's already here? And she was. The morning of July 26th. Yes, wings included :)

I had a labor and delivery playlist going the whole time I was in labor. This included all of the songs that relaxed me and had lyrics of encouragement. One of my favorite parts of this whole process occurred the first time I remember holding Paisley and my senses clued in to what was playing in the background. The music was stopped on Nichole Nordeman's "Jesus Loves Me." Will. Never.Forget.That.

I'll always remember our first real moment it was just "us" -- me and P.  Everyone left the hospital to either take Hunter home or to go pick up food at Luby's. I turned on my music again and just looked at Paisley in her little bed. The song "Hold on to Jesus" by Erin O'Donnell & Janna Long came on. Oh. My. I'll copy some of the lyrics at the end of this post. Listening to those lyrics and looking at P, I lost it. The biggest teardrops I've ever produced fell onto my clothes, and I just wept.

"Coach" and Mommy -- approx 5:30 am

Waiting Room Shot

My Boys 

Hunter and I decided to name P's new giraffe, Dr. Cole!

Quite possibly the favorite

a little George Banks action


A hug from Nana, with love

The look of love

Leslie!!! So happy to meet you!

Paisley's visitors each took home a hot pink rose. Party favor!

Nothing says a close friendship better than this shot...:) Love y'all, M&E!

Daddy's girl

Going home...She had a really cute outfit on under there!

Dad (Pappy) went to get pink balloons for the sign...but they were all out at the store! What you see here is his creative genius--pink kickballs taped to the chalkboard! :)

Excerpt from "Hold on to Jesus"

You're a little piece of heaven
You're a golden ray of light.
and I wish I could protect you
from the worries of this life.
but if there's one thing i could tell you
it's no matter what you do
hold to Jesus, He's holding onto you 
The world will try to tell you
that might is more than right
and beauty's on the outside
and being good's a losing fight
but remember what i've told you
'cause the world will make you choose
hold to Jesus, He's holding on to you 
Hold on to Jesus, and cling to his love
rest deep in his mercy, whenever things get rough
and don't lose sight of his goodness 
and don't ever doubt this truth, that when you hold on to
Jesus He's holdin onto you. (Yeaaaa)
Hear me dear Jesus, 
rock this little one to sleep
keep her close when she's scared, and
give her grace when she is weak.
I know she'll stumble, but i know she'll make it through
if you hold on to her just like you said you'd do
hold her jesus so she'll hold on tight to you

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If You Had One Week Left to Spend Alone With the Boy of Your Dreams...

...what would you do?


...you go to HEB just to do the Buddy Bucks...3 times instead of the usual 2.

...you have a memorable Chick-fil-A date at the mini table and chairs and say "cheers" as you high-five your chicken nuggets :)

...you let him do the workout video with you when he begs to join you

...relish in reading the Tickle Monster book one more time

...and if you really are smitten one this boy, you just might let him pretend he's the king of the castle on a drawbridge

you might also go for one more family swim, hold hands while watching his baby videos, and share a scoop of afternoon icecream. Yep, you'd definitely do that. 

This question, "what would I do with one more week with my little buddy" has been on my mind since last weekend, since the doctors told me basically I had one week left before my little girl came!

I'm living it up with this little guy. But also excited for our family to grow!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Gideon Gig

Time. It's like gold. It's one of those things I hold onto dearly...I need it...and it's precious. This would explain why quality time is my love language. It's the most valuable thing I can give someone (from my perspective), and it's what I long to get as well~

Many of you know Josh took off an ENTIRE ten days at the beginning of June to let me finish my book, Bubbling Within. I had been counting on this "time" set aside for simply months now. I had so much to do before my latest deadline, which is actually a lifeline: my precious daughter making her debut in a few weeks! I wanted to finish this project, but of equal importance was to have the time to finish it completely and well. The Lord kept speaking Luke 1:45 over me: "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" And I was faced day after day with a faith challenge. Did I really believe God could do this? Complete this project with His excellence before the baby came? He brought before me the picture of Gideon, the mighty warrior whose army was stripped down to a mere 300 men when faced to fight the Midianite army of thousands. This was to show it was God's victory and not Israel's. But God knew I wouldn't have missed army men. He had to take away something else. He told me my stripping would be the taking away of what I put my faith in--- what I held onto with gripped hands-- my "set aside time."

He warned my heart of this before my time was lessened in three different shifts:

1). Diagnosis- I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I told myself I did not have time to monitor my blood sugars, exercise more, and measure my food!  My first and second-hand "army" diminished before my eyes, but God's sustaining power remained unshakable.

2). Josh's Work Load- Just days before Josh took off work for the big "writing week," unforeseen projects piled up in his inbox. He knew how important this week was to me, so he gave me full notice, "I may not be able to take off the entire week." I understood. And this did not come so much as a surprise to me. This was exactly the pruning to parallel with what God was trying to teach me. Of course, I prayed for God to give me the time, but I was not distraught by this news.

3). Last but definitely not least: The Pregnancy Exhaustion- Where was the exhilarated, coffee-house collegiate studier who could knock out projects in the middle of the night? The one curled up in flannel pajamas, deaf coffee and fake rimmed glasses just to pretend the part of "Oh, I just took a shower, took out my contacts and now I'm snuggling down to work?" I'll tell you where she went. She's curled up in her Snoogle every chance she gets! But she wouldn't trade this season for anything. Keeping up with a tot and growing one are life's finest delicacies right now. I consider these two my "luxury items." They say sleep is overrated anyways, right? And yet, this was another stripping of the norm. Even though I had nap times during the day to give me work time, it was not enough. I was simply too tired to work during H's entire nap. I had to balance-- half work and half rest.

Once again, God defeated the Midianites--this time using my feeble minute-hand. Josh's work slowed down enough, and he was able to take off the whole week. I had more energy during those writing days than normal. Truly, this was God-given. I worked and worked with all of His energy within me. He also guided me on when to stop. I took a break after the work week and picked it back up at a later date. This was to help the full vision of the project. It wasn't supposed to be done. It was supposed to be done well, and that took a little more time. During this writing boot camp, Josh said to me several times, "Use your words." He noted I was "talking" to him by verbalizing a half sentence followed by pointing at something. Most of the time, he couldn't tell what I meant by my point. I didn't even realize I was doing this. I had simply used all of my words. I know most guys (most of the time Josh included) would be happy for a female to use up a few words before coming home, but this went a little too far. The diabetes still took time but became a little more manageable and not as time consuming as originally thought. In fact, the extra exercise and healthy eating was part of God's fuel within me for this task.

As unexpected as these three "time strippers" were, I was also met with unexpected blessings. My mom came into town a few times recently to help play with Hunter. Josh's mom visited for an entire week in June and let me take off to my writing cave as often as I needed. These two women kept my energy up as well as let me space out my work time. If you are reading this, I probably have you to thank as well. Many of you were praying for me during this time--what a tremendous, indescribably help your words were!

I'm happy to say, I met my deadline with 5 weeks to spare.

I must remember those words of Luke 1:45 and believe God's vision ahead of time. If I do this, my focus on any given project is on God, secondary to the thought of time. God's vision ahead of time. 

Tell me...what "Gideon Gig" has God sent you on lately? Please leave a comment to discuss!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

POP *Sprinkle*

My friends threw a "Courtney's About to POP" sprinkle yesterday honoring Paisley and me. 
A sprinkle is a cute sister to a shower, but for the second baby!  
All the food was prepared in POP fashion. Lemon POPpyseed muffins, Blueberry POPovers, Homemade Heart POPtarts, Cake POPs :) All with corresponding signage :) 

 Hostess Pic: Me, Lindy, Ashley and Kathlene
Thank you Ashley, for another beautiful celebration at your home! 
These girls know how to throw a pink party! 


 What a dream come true. I've wanted to see these "P" cookies for a very long time, Paisley! 

 My spiritual mentor and one of my best friends of 12 years and her newest addition 
(Maci & Juliana Barnett) 

 Love this girl, Erin!

 Catching up with Amanda :)

 My niece Abby and I having girl time 

Sisters! Kayla got the special gift seat! 

Loved seeing your name in a banner!  

A wreath my friends made for you for the hospital, Paisley! 

TOO cute :)

All this for you, Baby girl! 

 Such a fun time celebrating God's upcoming gift to me and Josh. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Thirty and Thriving, Right?

There were lots going through my mind two weekends ago on my birthday. The playlist? Yes, D. Carter's line of "I still remember when 30 was old...," Tim McGraw's "My Next 30 Years," and Point of Grace- "Blue Skies" (because for ONCE, on my birthday-- it was absolute sunshine and not a monsoon).

I was surprised to be diagnosed just days before my birthday with gestational diabetes--which made for an interesting day when I would usually crave chocolate chip cookie cake. But because of this, the day was mixed with a grand shift in perspective--and a focus on the things I had been given that will last.

I know the medical news threw Josh off just a bit. He wanted to serve me more for breakfast than water and eggs, but he never let on. He just about gave me the best birthday ever a low carb girl could ask for.  I was able to have manis and pedis with my friends in the afternoon. I had a pic to post of the four of us, but I think two of them would kill me because they were in their running attire from the morning. I may be 30, but I'm not near ready to die.

Later that evening Josh took me out for a fanciful dinner at Maggiano's in the Galleria. He had lots of surprises up his sleeve...which I loved.

Thank you Josh, for making my day so special -- EGD (every girl's dream).

For ME? 

Flowers from J. 3 Words- Plants and Petals. Take note, my friends. 
BEST place for floral arrangements HANDS DOWN. :)