Claiming Truth Over Lies

IMG_2841I was talking to a friend on my drive home from the office a few days ago. She was telling me that she is going on a trip and is already feeling nervous. She is going to be around women that have always intimidated her. I found myself uttering the words that I am constantly having to tell myself – and in God’s fabulous humor – words I need to hear more often because I tend to forget my own advice:)

The truth she was telling herself is that she is not equal to these women – they are farther along in their careers, have done more in life, have better lives – that whole “the grass is always greener and looks that way because we only put the BEST of ourselves on our Social platforms”…The truth of the matter is that we ALL have ups and downs and NO ONE should feel less than due to another person’s success or status…

But how do we make that a reality? I mean, seriously Courtney, I feel that way ALL THE TIME!

We have to CLAIM the TRUTH. For me it means recognizing that I’m a child of God. He created ME…The timing had to be perfect or I’d be someone else…I could be a BOY or I could HATE to read! But no, mom and dad did things at the right moment and they got ME (thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk who puts this way more elegantly than I just did:)

So what does that have to do with claiming the truth? Well, recognizing that you are YOU and no one else. You have a specific set of skills, qualities, character, etc. that make you unique.

When thoughts come to our mind we need to offset them. We’ve trained our brains over time to believe what we say…and if you’re a parent you may have experienced this with your kids. “Mom, I CAN’T do it!” and my response is: “Get rid of the word CAN’T!” Why do I say that to my kids? Because if they say they can’t that is the word their brain will hold on to and they will begin with a defeatist attitude.

A few months ago I was listening to a podcast and the gist of it was that we need to speak words of affirmation over ourselves and speak with a positive mindset. EVERY. DAY. We need to retrain our brains to think in the positive INSTEAD of in the negative. In other words…when our brain tells us one thing…we are going to voice the TRUTH. Out loud if you need to.

When your brain says: You are worthless. You will never amount. Respond with: NO! That’s not the truth. I AM good enough.

When your brain says: You are a horrible mother. You were late dropping them off AGAIN. You were late picking them up AGAIN. You are terrible – you forgot to send in that paper work. RESPOND WITH: NO! That’s NOT the truth: I AM a good mother.

When your brain says: Why can’t you just get it TOGETHER. The house is a mess. The laundry hasn’t been done – you are TERRIBLE. Respond with the TRUTH: NO! I AM a good wife.

When your brain says: Wow, you really sucked at that presentation! You really messed up in that meeting… Respond with: NO! I AM a good [plug in job title].

At the end of the day, our brain likes to lie. It likes to run on the emotions of the moment. That isn’t always good. A few years ago I made a MAJOR mistake at the office. It was heart-breaking for me because I had worked really hard, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. And when the project completely fell apart I made a mistake…a lot of mistakes. I was written up and it CRUSHED me. After a few weeks my boss pulled me aside and said, “You need to quit walking around like the world is coming to an end. Hold your head up. It’s over, you need to move on.” It was true. I felt like I would never gain upper management’s trust again. (The old mantra ‘You’re only as good as you’re last…) But here I am, several years later in the same position at the same company. I had to readjust my mindset. I had to realize that that was one moment in time. I had been holding onto it like I’d just written my death sentence and it was TAKING ME OVER.

Ridiculous!

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

I will never understand why my brain wants me to focus on the negative over the positive. What I do know is that I need to focus on the positive more than ever. We are in a world that loves negativity. It sells. It draws attention. I need to speak TRUTH over myself so that I can speak TRUTH over my family.

There is power in the words we speak.

Speak truth today. Take it a day at a time. I promise you will see a change…and if you find that you’ve stopped – just start again:)

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Clarity

I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on what happened 2 weeks ago for awhile. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then, in my head, I was like “Who am I to write about it?”

Who am I?

What happened?

MikeAmyRidderingFriday, January 15, 2016 a man I met while I was in Burkina Faso was killed in a terrorist attack. I had just arrived home when I received a text from a friend from work letting me know about a tweet for Westerners to stay out of Ouga, the capital city of Burkina Faso. I thought it was odd and texted him back saying I’d known there had been a strike a few weeks back…so maybe it was related to that?

Then I jumped online. My feed was blowing up with news of Burkina, the terrorist attack and the fact that know one could find Mike. There’d been a phone call to Amy, Mike’s wife, from a pastor who ended up with his phone, but then it went dead. Mike’s wife was at the orphanage they run together in Yako – 2 hours from Ouga.

The group I went to Burkina with texted and Facebooked each other while we awaited news. The more we read the news stories coming out, the more grim it seemed. Yet we held out hope. Mike is a man of God – doing AMAZING things for the children, widows and families of Burkina. There had to be a miracle.

But there wasn’t. In the midst of our prayers, our searching (okay – truly my fervent searching of Youtube amateur footage and tweeting random news folks ‘on the scene’)…through it all Mike was already in Heaven with Jesus. Saturday morning we saw Amy’s post and suddenly the heaviness of grief was upon us. It hits everyone in weird ways. I’m not a crier…but when it comes to daughters missing their fathers, or really any child without a parent – it hits home to me. I feel like I grieved when Princess Diana died…not because I knew her (I didn’t!) but because she had two kids who were growing up without a mom they loved dearly…and here we are again…not only are Mike’s 4 children growing up without him, but the dozens and dozens of children whom he impacted on a daily basis – the kids who called him Papa…now they were feeling the pain, I’d once felt.

It sucks.

Saturday sucked.

Then Sunday came. Things were not better. Tears were still shed. Yet, we had an immediate reminder that our hope is not found in the now, but in what is yet to come. Mike did amazing things with Amy at the Yako Orphanage…Amy is going to continue the amazing things they did together. That makes me overjoyed!

Prior to this attack I’d already been talking to Tim about going back. He really wanted me to go to Haiti first because he fell in love with the country and her people when he went with Revolution…but I feel the same way about Burkina. I imagine we’d both feel the same way with our roles reversed…and so I want Tim to come with me. The next trip hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m praying about my part.

Lincoln is still intent on going as well:) He wrote our Compassion child, “See you in 4 years!” That is when he will be 12 and we will do a Compassion family trip. I know I freak a lot of people out by talking about going back, especially in the midst of terror that is so fresh, but I can’t help it. It was part of our discussion as we awaited the news of our friend. We’d only just met him, but the impact was profound. We all agreed, trips are in our future. Not everyone will agree with it and that’s okay. God puts a call on our life that we have to answer and no one else can make that decision. Wisdom plays a part (our church bumped the last Burkina trip in October to Christmas due to issues within the country) and we will take all of it to heart.

YakoOrphanageAt the end of the day I want to look at my kids and let them know that there was nothing that would keep me from doing what God asks of me…just as my prayer for them is that they will always follow God’s will for their life. I have several friends who are doing a mission trip called “World Race”. They are traveling across the world and going to 11 countries in 11 months. I imagine their parents were a bit freaked out to find that their children were traveling to Asia, Africa and other countries…not for a few weeks, but for an entire year! It’s scary – but so is being outside of God’s will…and that’s a place I will never ever want to find myself.

I do not know what God has planned for Tim and I  – in Burkina Faso or in Haiti – but I know we will continue to seek God’s will for our lives and the lives of our boys…and we will go where He leads us.

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Merry Christmas!

3AM

This Christmas started at 3AM. I awoke to hearing the excitement of 2 little boys who discovered that Santa had indeed stopped at our house. 3AM is early…and reminds me why we need a house with stairs. As a kid, we were not allowed downstairs until my parents authorized it…strong word, but its the truth. So at 3AM we had some tears because we had to send them back to bed…but not before I realized that Lincoln was already WEARING one of his gifts that Santa left him! I LOVED it…and so back to bed they went…of course I didn’t go back to sleep so now I’m writing:)

This Christmas I went into the season with the goal to really MAKE the season. I wanted to focus on the good in the season, what Christ is really about – a baby coming as a gift from God to rescue the world. I wanted to tune out the negativity (is that possible?) and focus on the good things. Then we had the terror attack (I’m a sucker for some CNN) and I could see things headed to where they were last year…the bummer of living in a world that is sinful and selfish. The fear of having my children growing up with the wrong priorities…the fears of choosing job over family or…the list of fears can go on…

This Christmas

This Christmas is different. Christmas Eve started out rough – a power outage at the office (and yes I work Christmas Eve – it’s the liquor industry people;) someone needs to stock and REstock those shelves!) had me in a semi-ability to work. My computer kept turning itself off and on…and then it just quit completely. I gathered my team (and some additional co-workers ready to get something done while we waited) and we had a fabulous brainstorming session. It was fun to talk and laugh and brainstorm ways to make 2016 and 2017 better than 2015. We had some great ideas!

Christmas Eve service arrived and the boys joined us in service. It was crazy. Kellen got a new Bible while he was at my in-laws and he and Lincoln both brought their Bibles to service. Fun fact: Kellen can only read sight words. So each time scripture would pop up on the screen I had Kellen trying to follow along (and when the pastor would start explanations, Kellen would ask where he was, because obviously the pastor was continuing the scripture…so his finger would continue along the page while he would whisper “where is he now?”. Then next to me I had Lincoln, who would slap his Bible each time he got lost OR each time his Bible’s version didn’t match the version on the screen. I’m sure there were several folks who were asking themselves, “What is wrong with that family?! Can’t they keep their kids quiet?!” However, I choose to be stoked that my kids were attempting to follow along:)

At the very end of the service our pastor talked about giving your life to Christ. When I was younger we called it “asking Jesus into your heart”. The words seem cheesy and I think it’s because it doesn’t encompass all that it means…the relationship with Christ, the want to follow someone who gave up His life so that you could have eternity with Him. I have realized that it’s hard to put into words because it is about the environment, the person…and Lincoln asked me about it tonight. It started with the pastor mentioning a gift (hello – gifts are cool) and ended with me taking Lincoln out to talk to Tim who had pulled Kellen out because he was whispering a little too loudly, too often…and he might have whisper-yelled Lincoln at one point for messing with his Bible…maybe. Anyways, I talked to Lincoln and then traded out boys with Tim so they could finish the conversation…Tim told him he could always remember tonight as the night that he gave his life to Christ – whether he’d already felt like he’d done it or not – and Lincoln said, “Next year will be my anniversary!” My heart is SO FULL.

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Santa’s Coming! Santa’s Coming!

SantaKellenThe boys are at my in-laws until Christmas Eve. I have to admit, I was bummed when I realized that the boys would be gone right up until Christmas Eve. Tim thought I was crazy;) Truly though, with Christmas being my favorite holiday, the idea that the boys would not be with me up until the very moment of Christmas had me a bit sad. The laughter and the craziness makes me feel right at home – considering that’s how I grew up – a big family brings lots of noise and fun so this quiet time before the big day is something new.

While the rain is slowly starting to fall on this side of Georgia, I’m reflecting on how I want 2016 to be…The post yesterday shared some of my expectations of what 2016 can hold…More focus on those in need and less focus on the materialistic items – both for myself and my family.

Today I went to the bookstore and found myself perusing the social issues section. I love reading about others who have inspired and met challenges around the world from inner-city high schools to 3rd world countries. I found the companion to 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson which I’m excited to begin reading as well as a few others that I’ll be mentioning in the coming weeks. I’m so grateful for the life God has given me and I want so much to be able to share my journey with others. It hasn’t been easy – the last few years since Tim left full time ministry has been difficult. We have both been learning to face the new reality and while I’m confident that God moved us from our former church, it does not make it any less painful. It’s been slow going, finding our footing. I found that I took just as much ownership in Tim’s former position as he did and while my identity was not his job – a portion of it was that job…that calling. So to find us both navigating the corporate world has been both fun and frustrating. I haven’t talked about that journey except with a few close friends. It’s similar to my journey at work and dreams of the future. Some are hard to vocalize because in stating what you want might make people question the path that you are on…I’m hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to share more of what we’ve learned, what I’ve learned. We haven’t navigated everything perfectly, but we’re not perfect people.

It sounds crazy, but a few years ago I am very confident God provided me with a vision of our future as I drove down I-285. It was the second time in 2 years I had felt God audibly speak to me. I debated whether the vision was exactly what the future would be or whether it was just a vision of what opportunity lay ahead. I’m still not sure, but I hold onto it and I believe that 2016 is the year I will begin to see it unfold.

I have to admit – I’m pretty excited!

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