Friday, June 25, 2010

pure heart

Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good clear conscience and sincere unfeigned faith.
1 Timothy 1: 5

Some days it's very hard for me to love myself, situations, and others. Try as I might, I most times fail. In these moments I think it's great to be reminded that with faith and God's love, all things are possible...meaning that peace can result in certain situations. People will understand you and they can also be understood (especially while using a tamed tongue) and I can love myself when I know that I'm doing my best to live the way I'm supposed to live...and love.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

angels in unlikely places

Here's another story from yet another normal day morning commute...Another sun-shiny morning in Chicago and I was sipping my coffee while walking to the train, and I was in a good mood. I hopped on the red line and within the first couple of seconds I notice this woman standing near me, and she was humming. Humming what seemed to be a very happy tune, and she had magnetic smile on her face. There was an older gentleman sitting in front of her, and asked if she'd like to sit in his place. She kindly smiled at him and said "No sir, no thank you!" The next stop was his, and he rose from his seat to make his way to the door, and just before he left the car she tapped him on the shoulder and said "thank you dear, you're a true blessing to us all." He smiled back, seemed to blush a little, and said "well, thank you sweetie!" 

First of all, this interaction caught me off guard because of how sweet it was. Two complete strangers, in the big bad city, riding CTA no less, and they were kind to one another. Sincerely kind. As sad as this is, that does NOT happen often, and that is sad. 

I was still 3 stops away from my final destination and that's when the yelling began....I have to say, I about spit out my coffee because this woman was standing right beside me...and just stated yelling, loudly... "Don't let anyone steal your joy! Not your boss, not your mom, not your husband, not your children, not unemployment, not your anger, not your headaches, not your bank accounts...don't let anyone tell you you can't do what you want to do....don't let anyone steal your joy, ya hear?!" Obviously, this is not normal. People don't just start yelling (although it's happened before I assure you) but this was different. This woman, seemed sincere. She seemed normal, and happy. Who am I take her and this message for granted. Ok, I know most of you reading this are thinking "Court, she's off her rocker...screaming and carrying on that way" but honestly, I am grateful she was there, and grateful that I heard the things she was saying. There was truth to every word. 

Angels are often found in the most unlikely of places and this was one of those moments. I know this because of some things I've been dealing with lately. Things I'm struggling with internally, emotionally, and it's been hard to focus on the right thing at times. This reminder, although very unique in delivery, was the perfect thing for me to hear at the most perfect time. 

God is always at work, and being reminded of that, no matter how, is a blessing:)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

For those non-Facebooker's out there...

I love pictures. So, I thought it'd be nice to have a site where everyone could see what Jason and I are up to! I need to upload just about everything else on my computer so it'll take some time! But here it is! I just love Shutterfly!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

his love

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 
Psalm 36:5

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

in order to move forward...

I'm sure we've all had know that annoying, big or small, loud or terrifyingly silent thing...that takes up space in our know, that nagging, should I say something...but I don't want to...what if I say the wrong thing...when is the right time....what if I'm misunderstood...but I just really really need to say something feeling...Well, I'm experiencing that right now. I know what I want to say. I know how I want the conversation to go. I know that I need to be direct and honest. I also know, that I need to be prepared for the response...and this is where I get stuck, and scared, and that lump in my throat rises just a little bit more, and then I push my thoughts to the back of my mind, and heart and think....maybe it's not the right time, or maybe I'm just overreacting....but really, I know I'm not.

But the truth is, this should have happened a long time ago. I never should have let this little "thing" get to be as big as it is consumes my thoughts. It keeps me awake at night. It makes me cranky, and edgy, and it's not fair to the people around me who love me and deserve more from me.

So, as hard as this will be, I know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It might get worse before it gets better, but I understand and accept that.

This is something that I've been dealing with on and off for a very long time. I think as I get older and realize more and more how much it or the lack of "it" effects my life, the more worried, and upset I get and what's worse is that I have the ability to at least try to change it. I always have. I'm partly to blame for feeling the way I do because I could have started mending this years ago...I was young, and stubborn, and so busy living life the way I wanted to that I pushed it aside and figured it'd "take care of itself" but that remains to be seen. So, now it's time to deal with it as an adult. An adult that is about to enter into the beautiful world of marriage. Everything is going to change,and with this new life, comes new responsibilities, and I am taking each and every one very seriously. In order to be the best companion I need to be on my A game, and I can't do that when there is still a part of me being tortured by this unfinished business lingering in the background. 

It's time. To speak. Listen with an open heart. Forgive. Be Forgiven. And move on....could please all say a little prayer for me?!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

precious morning encounter

Unexpected surprises from God are the best, especially when they come from children. This Thursday morning was just like every other morning. I cursed the alarm clock, but forced myself to roll out of bed and get my day started! I've been making coffee at night and chilling it in the fridge so I can have iced coffee in the morning (it's saving me $3.07 and I'm sure Starbuck's misses me, but it's better for my bank account!) The sun was shining and the birds are just going crazy singing and hollering to one another. Everyone around me is still geared up from last nights hockey game. The Chicago Blackhawk's pulled it off and walked away with the Stanley Cup! I am and always will be a Red Wings fan, but it was a great game!

Ok, back to my story...with coffee in hand, I walk to the bus stop. I catch the bus the same time every morning and always have the same driver. He's super bubbly which I love and we exchange smiles and wish each other a good morning! As I walk towards the back of the bus I see this adorable set of sisters. (They couldn't be more than 5 & 9 years old, which still floors me that children this small can master CTA!) As I take my seat I hear them talking and the older of the two is holding a piece of paper and helping the younger one read it. The older of the two reads the words, and then asks that the younger one read them back to her and then asks her so sweetly to sing what they have just read...then together they began to sing...

Shout to the lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King
Mountains bow down, and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name... 

Of course I couldn't help by stare, and smile, and feel a calm come over me. With each word my heart would melt that much more. 

After a minute or two the older sister looked at me, and smiled. The younger sister, was immediately shy, but then appeared this huge toothless grin, and hid behind the paper she was now holding. "That was a beautiful song the two of you were singing" I say, and in unison with their little girl voices they said "Thank you mam." 
We then chatted for a minute and they said that they were practicing for church on Sunday, and told me that they were 10 & 5 years old and on their way to school. When the bus pulled up to our stop the hopped off with me, and both waved and said "goodbye mam," it was just the sweetest thing! 

I never know what to expect on my morning commute, but this precious encounter was most welcome. I'm filled with such joy at the thought of children being on fire for God, and singing and praising him. It reminds me that I need to do more of that throughout my day, and also always be aware of my surroundings to make sure that I'm not missing out on anything as lovely and positively contagious as this!

Friday, June 4, 2010 my kind of town!

Over Memorial Day weekend Jason and I set out to be tourists in our own city. Our friends, Paul and Emily, came to join us in our adventure, and a boat tour through the city was first on our list! The tour was incredible and we learned so much about the architecture and numerous fun facts about some of the buildings. The sun was out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was the perfect day for it. After that we bar crawled around the city, and watched the Cubs game (we're still Tiger's fans, but this one was for Paul!) I admit, it was bittersweet mainly because I started thinking about the move we'll be making come this fall. 

We have fallen in love with Chicago, and like any relationship there are things we cherish, but there are also things we know we can live without! We love that there are so many restaurants you couldn't possibly get bored. We have the rush of the city, and are still just steps away from Lake Michigan. I love the shopping, and the fact that there is a Starbucks on every corner. Jason loves to bike down Lakeshore Dr. and loves the sports bars with their open windows in the summer! We love that so many places are within walking distance, and that I can go see the polar bears at Lincoln Park Zoo whenever I want to for free! We love the community of friends that we have made here and the many happy hour get togethers we plan. Reading the daily specials in the Red Eye, the concert halls, the millions of places to do brunch, Twisted Spoke Bloody Marys, Gaslight Montana wraps, our reading spot in the park, Cody's, and the fact that the nostalgia never wore off are all things we're happy to have experienced...I guess the only things we won't miss are the never ending sirens (literally every 2 mins) and having to brave CTA on a daily basis! I'm sure I'll have nightmares about the guy on the overhead speaker on the Red Line "This is Fullerton, transfer to Brown and Purple line trains at Fullerton" haha!

I'm glad that I have the summer with you Chicago...let's make it a memorable one! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

it came highly recommended...

When something this good is brought to my attention, teaches me, touches me emotionally, and I resonate with it I have no choice but to pass it on. Cold Tangerine's by Shauna Niequist just made my top 5 favorite book list of all time! I'm blessed to have read this book and thank Jo, and Rach for bringing it into my world. 

Perspective, appreciation, and love are being shouted from every page, and every story gave me goosebumps, and the more goosebumps I got the more I feel in love. If I was a writer, I would write this way. It's honest, and naked, full of life, insecurity, and most of all hope. It's about "celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life" and that's exactly what it is. Reminders of what we overlook and should be celebrating. Turning even the darkest day into the brightest because of God's love and all that he has given. 

It's an absolute must read for everyone, so I won't spoil any of it, but it got me thinking...on the days in which I find myself bored, lazy, complacent, or just plain grumpy instead of wallowing in that puddle of pessimism I know I need to find the joy, appreciate it, and thank God. So, I'll take my queue from Shauna...

I'm so thankful for beautiful Chicago mornings when the birds are chirping, and I haven't yet heard the anticipated first siren...I'm thankful for Jason, and with one smile from him all is right with my world...I'm thankful for raspberries, the little sour and magical fruit that can instantly make me happy....I'm thankful for the clean, white sheets I sleep on, and the clinking of glasses as toasts are made for celebratory occasions...I'm thankful for photography, the capturing of many different perspectives with one shot....I'm thankful for journaling, my sweet and silent therapy...and I'm thankful for my beautiful, large, and crazy family without which I would not be who I am today...

Carefully threaded into all of these things so brilliantly is God, renewing my soul, and preparing me for each step I take forward, and picking me up when I fall four steps behind. Breathing, fighting, encouraging, loving, and consistently giving me hope...with all my love, thank you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

best foot forward

I was stranded in my apartment yesterday while the thunderstorm raged on outside my window so I decided to get up the courage to (dun dun dun) clean out my closet! And clean I did! Now, getting rid of clothes was no problem, that needed to be done. I had clothes in there that I hadn't worn in years....I guess I was hoping that one day that the brilliantly beaded shirt from forever 21 would come back in style, or that a certain pair of jeans would fit again...but neither happened (sigh) so it was time. 

Shirts and sweaters went first, followed by pants, then I cleaned out my jewelry box, and got rid of about 5 purses...then, I had to face the big bin at the bottom of my shoes.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to shoes. I can't walk out of a store without a pair! I will try them on at least 6 times, think about what I'd wear with them...where I'd wear them...most of the time totally dismissing whether I actually "need" them or not. Meaning I have more pairs of shoes then one person needs. It's a bit shameful really! As I sat there on my bedroom floor surrounded by my plethora of shoes I couldn't help but think about how I feel when I walk in each pair...

The older I get the more practical I have become ...those 3 inch heels aren't as comfortable as they once were, and a pair of flip flops and my Chuck Taylors fit nice and snug! I notice my style changing with the seasons just like my personality and I feel comfortable, and happy in my own skin...and in my shoes:) 

I have shoes I like to play in, walk in, run in, dance in, impress in, and work in...and in a couple of days I'll be shopping for a pair that I'll be walking down the aisle in. To be honest, these feel like my very first pair of REAL grown up shoes! When I think about that pair of shoes...I picture something glamorous, but comfortable. Something stylish, but modest. Something sturdy, and something I can I can concentrate on walking gracefully towards my future...with my best foot forward!