On Books. And A Giveaway.

Updated:  We have a winner!  Kate Walker is the big winner of For The Love AND Simply Tuesday!!

And SURPRISE! I have three extra copies of For The Love to give away. So, Amber Carsten, Cali Wright, and Sarah Autry, you all get one also!!!!

I wish I had a copy to give to every single one of you who entered. Thank you for reading and sharing and loving on Emily and Jen along with me!

I love books.  (See the What I’m Reading link above for a peek into my book-life.)  I love physical books with pages made of paper.  I love the smell and the pretty covers.  I love them almost as much as I love reading them.

So!  I’m giving some away!

Both of these books release tomorrow.  I read them this summer and absolutely fell in love–with their words, with the hearts behind them, with the community of grace they are helping to build.

Simply Tuesday:  Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by emily p. freeman


In her gentle and gracious way, Emily invites you to sit, to rest, to listen to your life right now, where you are, and to hear the beauty in moments both big and small. Learn some every-day ways to practice being a kingdom-dweller instead of a kingdom-builder. Exhale a sigh of relief as she unfolds a tapestry of truth—real, Biblical, Jesus-truth—the kind of truth that empowers you to excuse yourself from the rat race and, instead, grab hands with Christ as he walks with you through the slow, simple minutes of life.

What if, instead of thinking we have to choose between our ordinary life and an extraordinary life, we began to realize they’re the same thing? What if we stopped asking God for big ways to serve him and started walking with our friend Jesus into the next simple moment in front of us?

emily p. freeman

For The Love:  Fighting For Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker


I turned the final page of For the Love and immediately wanted to share it with every woman I know. Jen has her finger on the pulse of our generation, leading a revolutionary return to the basics:

unity, grace, encouragement, affirmation, love.

Our tribe need not be ruled by scarcity; there is enough for every woman to live beautifully. A rising tide lifts every boat in the harbor; when one woman rises, we all rise. Let’s open our hands and give it all away—esteem honor, attention, love. What’s good for one is good for all.

Jen Hatmaker

Are you hooked yet?

I thought so.

So, how do you win?

For one entry, follow Emily and Jen in at least one way.  Here are the links to their social media pages:

Instagram:  Emily, Jen

Twitter:  Emily, Jen

Facebook:  Emily, Jen

**If you do this, please be sure to comment here or email me to let me know where you followed them!

For two entries, share about one or both of the books on social media.  You can either share this post or share one of the authors’ posts.  I’m not looking for my own publicity here–I just want people to know and love these gals like I do (you know, as a reader.  They have no idea who I am.)

**Again, for this option, be sure to let me know that you shared and how/where!

**Yes, you can do all of the above for a total of three entries.

And that’s it!  You’ll need to follow and/or share before Friday, August 21 at 11:59 CST.  On Saturday, I’ll tally up the entries and draw a name out of a hat.  (Seriously, I will.  No automated, newfangled rafflecopters here.)

I sincerely hope that you will read these books, even if you don’t win a free copy.  They are full of such truth and love.  Today is the last day to pre-order, and there are fun freebies for those who pre-order — for both books!  Click on the title of the book above for more info!

Summer Rain

Sometimes you’re outside on the back porch with your little boy, and you decide to put down your phone and take in the moment.  And for a minute, he’s playing happily and the soft overcast of the sky is bringing a bit of relief from the piercing sun of summer and you think that maybe this is one of those moments that you’ll be really glad you noticed.

And then your son puts the bubble wand in his mouth and you take it away and he cries long and loud.  And you remember that you haven’t had a shower yet today.  And you glance at the furry spider the size of a silver dollar that’s staring at you from the corner and you wonder if maybe this was the wrong moment to take in.

And then you look up, and there’s a storm rolling in.  And you get to sit on your porch with your son in your lap (he clings to you because he’s a little afraid), and you watch heavy clouds move in from the west.  In a matter of minutes, the sky waxes dark blue before it settles into bed with its blanket of gray.


And the rain starts.

Inside.  You turn off the lights and open the windows.

And you weep.

Because you suddenly realize how dry it is, how much the rain is needed, how you hadn’t even noticed.

We forget that it’s dry, because we drink daily from the tap.  We swim leisurely in cool, gleaming pools.  We drench our lawns with sprinklers.  They stay green.  We bask in the sun and we splash around in fluid grace.  We live off of our reservoirs in times of drought, because we believe.

We make it through the dry seasons because somewhere deep we harbor a quiet, steady faith that the rain will come.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sometimes writing (and reading) this blog feels a little bit like cooking dinner.  I want it to be substantial–meaty, with some vegetables and starch.  But I also want a little relief–something light, maybe acidic to cut through the heartiness.

So, thanks to Lori for the inspiration to lighten it up a bit, I decided to list a few things I’m digging lately.  Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite?  (Hint: go check out number two.)

What I’m into right now:

1.  Baseball.  On TV, in person, major leagues, college leagues – whatever, man.  For me, baseball epitomizes all the goodness that comes with summer.  I will never, ever tire of hearing the crack of the bat or the soft rumble of the crowd.  Also?  Kettle corn.  The end.

2.  Audrey Assad.  Specifically her album Fortunate Fall.  I’ve had it for about a year now, and I loved it immediately (the title track? and I Shall Not want? whoa.), and this week it re-entered my life.  Totally crushing on it all over again.

3.  My son talking.  Listen, I have been madly, wildly in love with my child since the minute I found out he was in my womb, but the honest truth is that I am not a baby person.  I have savored all of the moments of his young life, but hearing him say real words and sentences is a whole new level of parenting joy.  I sneezed and he immediately responded, “besh you!”  I gushed a surprised, “thank you, baby!” and smothered him with so many kisses that I believe I might have frightened him.

Hilarious Bonus:  He sometimes says, “ohhh my gaaash!” and it sounds just like Kristen Wiig in the surprise party skit from SNL.  Can we all take a minute to recognize the comic genius that is Kristen Wiig?

photo credit
photo credit


4.  Book Launch Teams.  I’ve had the unexpected pleasure of being a part of two different teams this summer.  I wrote about Jen Hatmaker’s new book and launch team here, and I’ll write a little more later.

But, I just finished reading the advanced copy of Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday, and I truly loved it.  You may have seen her hashtag #itssimplytuesday on Instagram or Twitter.  The idea is to take a breath during the average everyday to see the beauty of our small, simple moments.  In the book, she speaks (beautifully) about “Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World,” and the whole thing felt like a big ole hug that I didn’t even know I needed.

One of her small moments from the book:

“The rhythm of sitting on swings does good work, a reminder that we are tethered even as we sway.”

I’m loving that image.

5.  Restoring old homes.  I have become 100% addicted to the show Rehab Addict.  Nicole is a bad ass in the best sense of the word, and I truly believe she and I could be best friends.  Creepy?  Maybe.  True?  Absolutely.

Also, my new friend, Shaina, is living in and restoring an old home with her husband, and she is now one of my favorite people.

6.  Toni & Guy Dry Shampoo.  I use dry shampoo three out of every four days, so I feel qualified to say that this stuff is totally boss.

7.  Looking forward to Autumn.  Please don’t misunderstand me:  I am not advocating a life of always looking ahead to the next thing.  But a unique joy can be found in healthy anticipation.

I love summer sun and green leaves and warm nights, and I also enjoy the occasional daydream about pumpkins and pies and crisp evenings spent watching football.

The only thing more wonderful than the changing of seasons is the knowledge that the seasons will always change.

What are your favorites lately?

The Sadness

About nine months ago, I began taking medication for anxiety and depression.  That’s scary to say.  If I squint, I can almost see the stereotypes and the assumptions and the judgments lurking, salivating, waiting to pounce.

But I’ve said it.  I take medication.  There it is.

Last week, I missed a day of it.  And since then I’ve been fighting the slow, terrifying sink into the sadness.

Today I’ve alternated between drenching tears and distant apathy.  I’ve rallied and pulled myself up by my metaphorical bootstraps, only to sink into the couch in painful defeat moments later–a sequence of events that was once all too familiar.

My internal dialogue is on a loop.  It moves hastily from sadness to despair to determination to anger to, finally, sadness, where it begins again.

It’s a losing battle, a fight I cannot win.

Becca wrote this morning,

“My own fear wraps tight around me, and I push against the Savior who holds me close, even as I cry out for Him. I kick and flail and forget that I am already safe. The world I’ve imagined feels more real than what is true.

…And so I remain in the mystery. I try to work out how to relax into the arms of a Savior and trust His plans for me….”

And somewhere deep inside of me, I yelled, “Yes!”

That’s what this is.

Screaming, kicking, begging for the very Help who holds me.

I’ve known this before.  I’ve learned it so many times.  But, today, I need to learn it again.  So, He teaches me.

Someone once said that there is power in the naming–naming the thing, the sadness, the fear, the hurt, the _____.  Bringing the darkness out into the light rids the darkness of its power.  (1 John 1:5)

So, as I say it out loud to myself, to my husband, to a friend, as I cry out to my Savior, I begin to see that I’m already resting in his arms.  My high priest who sympathizes and gives grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Please remind your self, your friend, your daughter- whoever has the sadness tonight…remind them that it’s not new. It’s not personal, just not at all. It’s ancient- the sadness. It visited Rilke two centuries ago and it’s visiting millions tonight and it’s the same, same same for all of us. 

The sadness does not mean that life has forgotten you. Life might be visiting, in fact. Rest. Surrender to the forced stillness and let it pass. Wait. You will remain when it goes.

Glennon Doyle Melton,


Surrender to the forced stillness and let it pass.

Surrender.  Wait.  Remain.  Rest.

I don’t have to fight a losing battle.

I can rest in the arms of the One who has already won.

Dear reader, are you in the sadness?  There is hope.  There is help.

Here are some great places to start:



Love Wins

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and be legally recognized by the state as a married couple.

I hesitate to write or blog about hot social topics because there’s so much already being said.  The internet is saturated with opinions, and usually I don’t feel that it’s necessary to add to the noise.  But, in the wake of this particular issue, I have yet to read any blog post, tweet, facebook status, or op-ed that has articulated what I think is the most important response.  So, I’m going to attempt to write it.

I’d like to talk about when love wins.


Here’s the rub:  I believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Savior.  And so, in order to talk about love, I have to first talk about sin.

I know there will be many who read the last word of that last sentence and immediately hit their ‘back’ button.  And that’s okay.  But I had to get it out there in the open from the get-go, because that word is everywhere.  It’s in the facebook statuses, the tweets, the blog posts, and it is important.  It’s eternally important.  And, as a follower of Jesus, I do, indeed, believe that living a homosexual lifestyle (as opposed to having homosexual desires) is a sin.  But I’m afraid that I’ve seen too many Christians desperately waving the banner of condemnation while tragically leaving out the good news that Jesus charged us to tell.

I need you to know, dear Reader, that sin is only part of the story.

The gist of Christianity is this:  we believe that there is one true God and that He is holy.  One (of many!) major implications of God’s holiness is that He is the moral law.  His mandates for our morality are the rubric by which we judge any and all of our thoughts and actions.  One other relevant (for the purposes of this discussion) implication of God’s holiness is that He will allow only holy persons into eternal communion with him.  Those who are not holy (that is, anyone who does not obey his laws perfectly) are subject to eternal separation from God.

“But wait a minute,” you say!  “You are certainly not holy, Courtney.  There is no way you have upheld God’s laws perfectly.”

You are right.

“So how can you dare to believe you would spend eternity in communion with Him?  And how could you ever dare to talk to others about their sin?”

Because of Jesus.

Because I love them.  Because I love you.

And because Jesus loves you.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

That perfectly holy God who requires perfection?  He knew that we could not live up to his demands; but He loves us, and He wants us to be in communion with him.  So, he made a way.  He came to us as Jesus, our Deliverer, and He lived a perfect life in our place.  He offers us what we call propitiation for our sinfulness if we will admit it, turn away from it, and believe in him as our Savior from the wrath of God that we actually deserve.  And when we do that, we receive the reward that Jesus earned:  eternity with him.

Whew.  Take a breath.  That was a lot of information.

But I needed to tell you the whole story.  Because now I can tell you that I am a sinner in need of a Savior, just like you.  Just like Billy Graham.  Just like President Obama.  Just like Mother Teresa.  Now you’ll know what I’m talking about when I tell you that God is teaching me to hate sin (my sin included), not because I’m a crazy person who wants to be miserable and rain on everyone’s parade but because I have experienced the incredible, immeasurable love and grace of a Holy God, and I want to please him.  And I hope you can now see why it is troubling to me when Christians write about sin and leave out the rest of the story.  Because the rest of the story is Jesus.  The rest of the story is love.

Because of Jesus, love wins.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

1 John 3:16

What I Want To Say To My Twenty-Five-Year-Old Self

A few years ago I was twenty-five.  I was happily married, a college graduate, and on my third year of inhabiting the corporate cubicle farm.

And I felt completely lost.

I had no interest in a career.  I had passions but no real desire or direction to pursue them.

My friends were doing incredibly interesting, productive things with their lives.  They were getting law degrees and moving to Chile.  They were having multiple children and recording music that was played on the radio.  They were becoming licensed therapists and sitting on boards of awesome non-profits (in addition to their high-powered full-time jobs).  As far as I could tell, they had every bit of the drive and purpose that I was obviously lacking.

I wanted to love my work.  But I didn’t.  I wanted the perfect humanitarian opportunity to come along.  But it didn’t.  I wanted to feel a sense of clear direction for my life–to wake up in the morning and know that I was where I needed to be.

But I didn’t.

So, I waited.  And time marched on.  Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and months turned into years.  We decided to try to have a baby.  Then we had a baby, and we decided I would stay home with him.  And more days turned into more years.  That baby will be two this summer, and one month after his second birthday I will complete my twenty-ninth year of life.

And now I see.

And I wish I could whisper into my twenty-five-year-old ears and say,

“Hang in there.

“I know you feel like you’re behind in life.  I know you feel less than the career-minded wives.  I know many of your friends have dreamed dreams of motherhood since they were old enough to rock a baby doll, and I know that was not you.  And I know that all makes you feel like you are not fit or meant to be a good wife or mom, but listen to me:

That is a lie.

“You have a creator who formed you–all of you.  He knows and has always known your fears, your interests, your talents, your passions, your desires.  He has known for all of eternity that you would work hard in a job you loathed in order to support your husband through school.  He knew before the creation of time that you would feel the way you are feeling.  It’s okay.  You’re doing the right thing.  Be faithful.  Draw near to Him.  Enjoy your husband.  Live your life.  Because this, too, shall pass.  And, oh Courtney, so much joy is coming.

“Your marriage will continue to mature.  It will grow into something beautiful, and the more beautiful it becomes the more you look forward to the growth that still lies ahead.

“You will start to feel comfortable in your own skin.  Your insecurities will still be there, but their voices will no longer drown out that of the Lord’s saying you are beautiful, made in His image, covered in the cloak of Jesus’ righteousness.  You will finally begin to discover your gifts and you will desire to use them for the good of others and for the glory of God, and it will be the most wonderful feeling of purpose you’ve ever experienced.

“And you will become a mom to a little boy who has your eyes and his daddy’s smile (and feet).  He will have colic and fevers, and it will be hard.

But he will fill your heart with a love you’ve never known.

“He will be sharp as a tack.  He will laugh with ease, and his kisses will turn you to mush on the spot.  He will test your patience and make you a better person, and every time you wonder how you could ever be the mother that he needs, the mother he deserves, the Lord will gently take you by the hand and say softly, directly into your face, that He chose you.  He created you and He created your son, and He intended from the very beginning of the world for you to be the Mama of this little boy.

“When your two-year-old alarm clock sounds every morning and your feet hit the floor, they will feel guided, ordered by the God of the Universe.

When the flexibility of staying at home affords you the opportunity to serve your church or your community or your friends, to be faithful and willing in the mundane, it will feel bigger than the act itself, weightier with two small eyes watching and learning.

When you get hugs from chubby arms and hear ‘I luh yew, Mama,’ as you shut his bedroom door,

when you’re making lunches in the afternoon and you’re cleaning up sticky messes,

when you’re working hard to keep your cool as you discipline for persistent disobedience and when you’re bursting with joy and pride as you watch your baby learn a little more about himself and this world,

you will love what you do.

You’ll see.  Keep doing what you’re doing.

And, for heaven’s sake, sleep in.”

What would you say to your twenty-five-year-old self?

7 Things I Learned From My Mom

In anticipation of Mother’s Day I decided to compile a list of the most important things I’ve learned from my Momma over the years.

Some of these are lessons she taught me intentionally while others are things I gleaned from her character and actions.

All of them are priceless pearls of wisdom that I will be forever grateful to know.

1.  It’s okay to cry.

It’s a running joke that the women in my family are, shall we say, easily moved.  My favorite example being the Christmas that my grandma made chronological photo albums for each grandchild, full of pictures of ourselves with beloved friends and family members from birth to present day.  I was about halfway through mine, blubbering like a sea lion, when I looked up and saw my two sisters, my cousin, my mom, my aunt, and my grandma all in the same tear-stained state.

My mom and I often cry during our conversations.  Sometimes they are sad tears, other times happy tears, but they are always genuine tears.

Crying can be embarrassing, sometimes happening at extremely inopportune times and making my propensity for it a potential nuisance.  But, as I said in a previous post about this very trait, every time I cry a tear, it reminds me that I am alive and that I feel things and that there are things in this world worth feeling to the point of tears.

2.  Life’s not fair.  Get used to it.

Hi, my name is Courtney, and I have Middle Child Syndrome.

If my dear mother had a nickel for every time I screeched “but that’s not fair!” at a decibel level that only a middle child can reach and only dogs and moms can hear, she could afford to move to the beach and make hats every day.  (This, oddly, was a desire she often expressed after one of my outbursts.  I was not an easy child to rear.)

Since my mom has the wisdom of a sage and the patience of a saint, her response to my whine was always perfect…

(After my older sister beat me to the front seat of the minivan *again*)

Me:  “But that’s not fair!  She rode in the front YESTERDAY!”

My mom:  “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it.  And get in the back seat.  We’re going to be late.”

(When my older sister got a pair of [used] Doc Martens for Christmas, and I got a white sweatshirt with a smiley face on the front)

Me:  “That’s so not fair.  She gets everything she wants.”

My mom (wisely choosing not to engage in a discussion with me about how my sister does not, in reality, get everything she wants, and patiently refraining from pinching my head off):  “Life’s not fair.  Get used to it.”

You get the point.

I tell these stories in jest, but the fact remains that life is, actually, not fair.  Deserving people get overlooked for promotions; kind people often get the short end of the stick; older siblings totally cheat on the front seat rotation.  Life’s not fair.  And thanks to my mom, I know how to take it in stride.

3.  Don’t decide you don’t like something without first giving it a chance (barring drugs and immoral behavior, of course).  This applies to everything from food to friends.

A restatement of the old adage about judging a book by its cover.  An oldie but a goodie.

4.  When in doubt, take a jacket.

You don’t have to wear it.  But if you get cold, you’ll have it with you to put on.  Solid advice.

5.  This, too, shall pass.

Let the record show that my mom still says this to me.  It’s the ultimate encouragement when you’re in the middle of a situation that feels both world-shattering and never-ending.

However, it’s also an incredibly poignant existential philosophy.

This moment, this day, this experience, this life will pass.  Cherish it.  Live it.

(see mom?  that philosophy degree isn’t totally useless.)

6.  In most cases, less is more.

When I was thirteen, I had an obsession with black eyeliner.  My cosmetic-consultant-mom watched me walk out the door every day looking like a raccoon.  And she never said a word.

One day, several years later, we came across photo evidence of my unfortunate choice, and I asked her why she never stopped me from wearing it.  She said she knew that if she forced me to take it off, it would only teach me that she didn’t approve of my appearance and make me want to wear it more.  Instead, she wanted me to learn, in my own time, that less is more.

And you know what?  I did.

7. Pretty is as pretty does.

I like to feel pretty.  Unfortunately for me, I’ve never much felt it.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve bemoaned my boyish figure and the dark circles around my deep-set eyes.  Since I was old enough to notice, I’ve envied other girls their beautiful skin, their womanly curves, their perfect teeth.

As good, loving parents do, my mom often assured me of my physical beauty.  As a beauty consultant, she taught me the fundamentals of skin care and makeup application.  When I was younger, she complimented my appearance when she knew I needed the encouragement.

But, as excellent, God-fearing parents do, my mom just as often assures me of my true beauty.  She tells me she’s thankful to be my mom because I’m compassionate and caring.  She tells me she’s proud of me for loving and serving my husband and my little boy.  She rejoices with me when I tell her, through joyful tears, about what the Lord has been teaching me, and she tells me how happy it makes her to see me seeking Him.

She taught me to see others as she sees me, as God sees me.  To look first at their heart and regard not their outward appearance.  It is a skill that takes years to hone, and I’m still learning; but I see now how fortunate I am to have a mom who took the time to teach me.


Thank you, Mom, for who are you and for who you taught me to be.  Thank you for the nights when you stayed up late to sew my Halloween costume and for the mornings when you rose early to make my breakfast.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally, for disciplining me, for encouraging me, for believing in me.

And thanks for making me take a jacket.


What important lessons did your mom teach you?  What do you hope to teach your kids?  I’d love to hear all about it!