12.29.2011

Do you believe in Heaven?

I was reading the news online and came across the story of this sweet young man who after a lifetime of heart problems, finally passed away on Christmas. He had made a video that recently went viral and it touched me so deeply.



What a beautiful reminder that life is a gift, that we should make the most out of this life, and we shouldn't fear what is to come after this.




12.27.2011

Ponderments...

The week between Christmas and New Years always seems to bring a week long reflection of not only the past year, but also of my life as a whole.

Have I made positive steps forward in any areas? Did I accomplish my New Years Resolutions?

Almost always the answer is no; and this years 'week of pondering' has brought me to seek a conclusion to the inevitable "no" that lurks in the shadows year after year.

All of this soul searching has really paid off and I'm pleased to announce that I have found the culprit...

Fear.

Intrigued by this thought, I decided to look up the actual definition of fear, which reads: "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, , likely to cause pain, or a threat."

The definition registered deep within my heart as something I was well acquainted with. The universe conspired to help me develop this idea further when I accidentally stumbled upon a quote from J. K. Rowling. She says, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default."

Now I understand that this quote says nothing about fear directly, however the essence of it reeks with pure understanding of what fear can cause.

My whole life I have been fearful of the most ridiculous things. I'm not referring to my previous post on irrational fears (those are all completely logical in my book) however, I am more so thinking about hundreds of little things that have caused me to miss out on great opportunities. I mess up something one time, and suddenly I'm afraid to try it again. Cooking, tap dancing, losing weight, writing music, auditioning, new years resolutions, love, socializing, church... I could go on and on!

When I really begin to ponder upon the things I have missed because of these little fears, it makes me extremely angry. I have been living my life on 'default mode' long enough!

3 1/2 years ago I was crushed from the inside out by several circumstances that left me in more pieces than I could even fathom. Ever since then, I have played my life as cautiously as possible, and spiraling into deeper and deeper sadness. I have been so terrified that I will repeat the same mistakes, I've steered clear of needing to make decisions at all! Life is meant to be lived, and that is a terrifying thing. However, isn't a life of scary accomplishments worth more than a life of safe mediocre achievements?

I vote yes.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."
Marcus Aurelius

Ironically enough, the idea that fear and faith cannot exist simultaneously was introduced to me through a devotional at church. I guess it really is that easy huh? If you feel fear, choose faith.

11.18.2011

Dear 2011...

Thinking back on this last year automatically makes my head shake back and forth in disbelief, accompanied by a slight chuckle.

What started out as such a promising year, a year that I was going to devote to serving God and other people; has turned into a year of finding a relationship with God and serving myself.

As many of you know, this year has presented trail after trial, most of them literally bringing me to my knees. However, through the grace of God, this holiday season is proving to be one of learning, understanding, and most of all acceptance.

In my morning scripture study, I'm reading in Mosiah out of the Book of Mormon. The 24th chapter of this book particularly struck me. It's the story of the people of Alma. They are righteous and following all of God's commandments, when they are overtaken by a horrible man named Amulon and his armies.

"10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he aput guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their ahearts to him; and he did know the bthoughts of their hearts."

When I read this passage I felt overcome by so many different emotions.

First of all: how often, in times of trial, do we blame God and turn away from him? These people were righteous, put under horrible trials of no consequence to their actions, and still they leaned on Him.

Second, I felt a twinge of guilt. My trials are nowhere near as bad as these people, and yet I have complained, murmured, and even forsaken my God. Where has my faith gone? Why have I become so entitled that I feel as if I don't deserve trials?

The next lesson came from the following passage:

" 13 And it acame to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the aburdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand asbwitnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their cafflictions."

How often do I treat my relationship with God as that of a Genie granting wishes? I've somehow gotten it into my mind that having the faith to ask God for something, will automatically grant me my desires. God eventually delivered the people of Alma from their slavery, but it wasn't until they showed Him their faith during their trials. This year, at the first sign of a trial, I turned my back on God and engaged in the " why me?" game. The results of these actions have simply brought more challenges.

Yes, 2011 has been one of the worst years of my life, but it's also been quite amazing as well. I've been humbled in a way i've never comprehended before. I've truly begun to understand what Oprah meant, when she said:

"Be careful what you pray for. If you want to be more courageous, God isn't going to zap you with courage. He's gonna provide you with a hard experience to build up your courage."

I didn't nessecarily pray to be more humble, but I am now able to say I am grateful for the opportunities (trials) that have helped me clear a foggy mind. Over the past few weeks I have begun to delight in the Lord, no matter my circumstances, and therefore have been able to see His hand in every aspect of my life.



9.16.2011

Irrational Fears

Some of you may know that I have a few things that I am completely terrified of. Upon telling most people all my irrational fears, they tell me how ridiculous I am, to which I respond with:

"Isn't that the point of irrational fears? They are, by definition, not rational?"

Here are the top three, listed from most to least severe.

1. Vampires

Seriously, even typing the word gives me the heebie jeebies. I'm sorry there is no picture with this one, but the image search for 'vampires' made my heart rate increase.

Up until my senior year of high school, I slept with the covers wrapped around my neck. I'm not kidding. It could have been 105 Degrees in my bedroom and I still would have had something covering prime biting area.

The most common response to this fear is:

"But Courtney, vampires aren't real."

Listen people, I understand this, I'm not a total idiot.

Last night I had my interest peaked through an interview I read about Brad Pitt, and thought I'd check out the preview for 'Interview With A Vampire'- biggest mistake of the week. I was so terrified after that preview I had to sleep with my hoodie pulled up over my head and tightly tied, so that no Vampire could have access to my neck.



2. Sharks

Many people fear the creatures of the deep, but I am terrified of sharks in the sea, in a lake, in a river, even in the bathtub. Ok, not actually in the bathtub, but every other water where I can't see my toes is game.

I have this theory at the beach that if I can be the person closest to the sand, with a ring of people further out then me, the shark is bound to attack them first giving me time to run into shore. Selfish, I know.



3. Logging trucks

I can thank the Final Destination movies for this fear. It never occurred to me that a log could loose itself and plummet through my windshield and into my skull, before that movie was released. If there is a logging truck, I will be the furthest lane away from it, and pass it as quickly as possible.





What are some of your irrational fears? I ask mainly so you'll respond and i'll feel less ridiculous ;)



9.10.2011

9/11


It seems as though coverage of the 10th Anniversary, of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks started over a month ago.

Every week there has been a new story, picture or article that touched me to my core.


That day, so many years ago started out like every other and ended with fear in the hearts of so many, myself included. I was a Junior in High School, and by second period, the TV's were on; watching live coverage of the terror striking New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. They canceled all after school activities (including play practice) and I remember being livid that they did so. I wanted a distraction from the terrible sights on the news. I wanted 2 hours where I didn't have to focus on what was really happening.

My story is so simple. In fact, it's like the majority of the world. Our Grandparents remember where they were when Pearl Harbour was bombed, and we so vividly remember where we were when we heard the Trade Center's had been the target of a terrorist attack.

What drew me closer to this day, was moving to NYC and living in Manhattan for 3 fall seasons. Every 9/11 I would take the train downtown to pay my respects to those who lost their lives on that sorrowful day.



The displays of love, the stories told, the pictures left, the relatives mourning, the light beams representing the 2 towers; all brought me to tears every year.

It was hard for me to fully comprehend the loss until I was there, on the day, realizing I was standing on the grave of thousands.




Last year, I had the opportunity to go pay my respects with my dear friend Bianca, who was only blocks away from the towers that fateful day. Walking around Ground Zero with her brought the whole horrific event into even more of a reality. Here stood one of my dearest friends, praying at the site that she feared for her life 9 years ago. I'm so thankful that she is here to be my friend.




Thinking about those who lost their lives makes all of our differences so minute doesn't it? Well it should.

Whether you have your conspiracy theories, or don't. Whether you are for the War in Iraq or against it. Whether you are Republican or Democrat: I hope that as you are going about your day tomorrow, take a moment to yourself, and offer a prayer for those who were directly effected by this tragedy. No matter what you believe, there is one thing that cannot be denied. 2,996 people lost their lives that day.













(Collection of gifts left at Ground Zero in the NYC WTC Museum)




“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “
- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001








(Cross made from remnants of the World Trade Centers)

9.09.2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Living with the Ramseys is like a dream come true. They are loving, supportive, upbeat, and care so deeply for my well being.

Their beautiful house has been in my life longer than any home i've ever had; meaning since I was 5 years old, they've lived at 13629 171st Pl.

I'm an animal lover, as many of you know, so I was thrilled that the Ramseys have the same love. They currently own 3 adorable weenie dogs named Tanta, Woody and Phillip (hahah I know~ who names a dog Phillip?)

This week, they also agreed to dogsit for 2 more dogs. Needless to say, i'm running with a pack of tiny yippy dogs :) This usually would pose a problem, seeing as how I prefer big dogs. ALWAYS. However, they all have their own little unique personalities that constantly keep me giggling.

Let me introduce you:

This is 'old man' Woody. He has a severe over-bite, so he constantly looks like he's a little confused. I was there almost 10 years ago when they picked him up from the Breeder, and am now a part of this Grandpa Dog's daily routine.









This is Leelo...









or 'little weirdo' is what I prefer to call her. I mean look at what I wake up to each morning?












This is Tanta Luigi. She is a princess in every meaning of the word!











This is Gus. He barks at EVERY SINGLE NOISE HE HEARS. Literally.








And Ladies and Gentlemen: Phillip. He is a rescue dog, so he came with the name. He's got me wrapped around his little paw. I love this dog!










9.02.2011

Run Forest, Run

Last night I was able to have a wonderful phone conversation with my Mom. We were talking about random things, catching up on each other's lives, when this conversation emerged:
"I had a thought yesterday"
"Oh yea? What was that Mom?"
"You should walk home."
"Excuse me?"
"You know, I was thinking, if you started walking from Seattle to NC, you could lose weight. And you could write a book called 'walking girl' and you could become famous."
"Are you being serious right now? I mean where would I stay? I don't have any money..."
"Oh you could walk to Salt Lake and stay with Grandma, and then.... walk to NC. ~silence~ I mean, Forest Gump did it."
Ladies and Gentlemen, my Mom :)

8.31.2011

Dejavu

As you could tell from my last blog post, things started off quite awful here in my new transition. After the first 48 hours I was left thinking "why did I ever find this to be a good idea!?"
The good news, however, is that as I continue to settle into life as a west coaster, things continue to get better!
I am now living with our dear family friends, the Ramseys. They reside in the city of Renton (which is about 30 minutes from Seattle) which also happens to be the place I grew up!
This post will only truly resonate with those of you who have moved away from the place that you were raised...
You see, although I spent the first 12 years of my life in Renton, WA; I haven't lived here in over 14 years! As I start making a life for myself here, I can't help but feel that everything is in a weird sort of dejavu. I constantly feel as though I recognize buildings, streets, even stores; but I can't really recall the memories that house them.
On Saturday I had the opportunity to walk right by my old house, through my old neighborhood, and into the Renton Fairwoods Library. It was as if I was in a dream! This was the library my mother used to take us to when I was 5 years old~ and there was something so oddly familiar about it.
I stood at the check out desk chatting with the clerk and I couldn't help but chuckle as I walked out the doors of the library.
Life is so weird sometimes!

8.24.2011

Life is just a bowl of cherries

As I walked into the RDU airport, I took in a big deep breath.
"The last 2 times I was here, were not times I wanted to revisit this soon," I thought to myself as I continued to the counter.

Within a matter of minutes, the bags were checked, the ticket was issued, and the security line was passed through.

In the RDU airport there is a little area in between the security check point and the escalator that takes you to all the gates; this area is perfect for waving the final good-bye's to people who may have been visiting, or others you may be leaving.

Tears came to my eyes as I remember the last time I was in this very spot.

I was leaving on my mission. I had already hugged my Mom goodbye, begrudgingly taken a few pictures, and made it through security. As I turned the corner, I was surprised to find my Mom waving at me and snapping more pictures. I had to laugh; partially out of embarrassment, and also out of love. I never knew how proud my Mom was of me until I saw it in her eyes in that moment. I glanced at the security guards, who were finding the scene quite amusing. As I stepped onto the escalator, I simply said "I'm not going to be back for a long time," smiled, and turned around.
I pushed back the thought and moved on; because this time, there was no one there waving.

The flights were hard. I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't sleep, and everything about me was uneasy. I usually love flying, airports and everything about traveling, but today was different and I couldn't quite pin point why. It didn't help that the seats were uncomfortable, the food tasted bad, and the man sitting next to me had the worst breath I've ever had the unfortunate joy of experiencing.

As the plane began it's final descent into Seattle I wasn't greeted by the skyline I've always loved, but rather by grey clouds filled with droplets of rain.

"I love it when the weather matches my mood," I thought as I leaned back in my seat and prepared for landing.

Upon arriving, I found that the Airtran had mis-marked one of my suitcases and sent it to St. Louis. Might I add- I just bought this luggage set for $300. I was not a happy camper.

Also, I spent the first night hovering over the toilet until 5 am with food poisoning.

I decided to come to Seattle in the hopes that I would get healthy, get happy and find myself. The past 48 hours have been a real reminder that this will not be an easy journey.

I hold on to the fact that I have a Savior who loves me. At this point in my life, this is all that keeps me going. Knowing that there is a plan for my life, and the creator of the universe- of my soul- is steering the ship.

7.20.2011

Newest favorite

My newest music addiction is Mumford and Sons. The song 'After the Storm' is on repeat ashamedly much.


Here is the song for your listening pleasure, and the lyrics are listed below for your brain's pleasure.



And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

7.19.2011

Change brings opportunity...hopefully

When evaluating my mere 26 years on this earth, I simply see more failures than successes. That's not a negative way of reacting to my life (even though you may think it's a harsh conclusion) it's just honest.

Some say I expect too much from myself. Others say I need to focus on celebrating my accomplishments instead of reliving my failures. And then there are those who are just like me- not happy with their past but unsure of how to move forward in the future.

For the past 10 years i've had an 'idea' of this woman I want to be. She's not 100% different from who i've always been, but she's pretty close to 75%. I've spent so long yearning for this difference that i've got everything mapped out. I know how long certain goals will take, and how much others will cost.

So i've got this picture of who I want to be, and I know how to achieve it... what's holding me up?

Well, there's always the issue of money and time. It costs money to achieve a lot of the goals I have, and so much time to work the others. However, lately I've been thinking the biggest problem may be the support I have had in Cary, Greenville, and NYC.

I have been so grateful to have a number of people that love and support me, but here's my question: Is that support helping or hindering?

There is a difference between "You're wonderful the way you are" and "how are your goals going and what can I do to help you achieve them?"

I believe this is an aspect of friendships and relationships that we tend to neglect. A true friendship moves forward and allows both of you to work towards, and achieve goals. How often are we moving forward, and not progressing.

Just as Ellen Glasglow said: "All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward."

I've decided to move to Seattle and live with a dear friend until the end of the year. It's a chance for me to renew my goals, work on myself, be a little selfish, and hopefully finally reach the goals i've had for over 10 years.




7.15.2011

The End has arrived...

"We work in your offices. We're on the road with you in the morning. Odds are, you know one of us. And [this weekend] we'll be standing outside movie theatres, dressed like cult members. We're Harry Potter Fans. Friday is a special day for us... It's The End." -Chris Heller



Harry Potter bed sheets...












check.






Harry Potter Silly Bandz...












check.






Harry Potter refreshments...









check.





Black nail polish to celebrate the final demise of Lord Voldemort...







check.




Reading up on current Harry Potter topics:



~It may not be alot, but I show my Potter Pride in simple ways~





Let the magical weekend
begin...



6.28.2011

Life is dumb

As I sit here staring at the blank screen, wondering what to write; there is a thunderstorm brewing outside.

The trees are being tossed violently to and fro, losing leaves and branches. The lightning is echoed by violent booms of thunder, and the rain is pouring down the windows to create somewhat of a sorrowful effect.

I can't help but smile a little in relation, because the earth is manifesting what I feel.

It's only been 2 1/2 weeks since I was prematurely released from my mission, and the amount of things I feel are incredible.

At most, I am confused as to why. Oh how the 'why's' are eating me alive. There are also the rushed feelings of embarrassment, feelings of failure, and it's all peppered with a little bit of anger.

One moment i'm excited for the future, the next i'm longing to be anywhere but here. I'm sad, confused, content, depressed, peaceful, immature, understanding, selfish, humble, motivated, and bedridden. And this is all before 9am.

So many people have reached out to me with letters of encouragement, calls of support and love. And yet, there have been a lot who haven't cared at all. I've never felt so loved and so lonely all at the same time.

In a confusing time of utter disbelief, I have been counseled to focus on the future. What future? Screw the future. I'm mad at the future.

I'm sick of people's opinions, and thirsty for them all at the same time.

I guess the purpose of this post is to put it all out there. To document this part of my life, and if anyone is out there feeling the same way- to offer the comfort that I know this is just a phase. That a period of grieving is as confusing as they come, but we'll get through it.



4.24.2011

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything"

I spent the early part of this refreshing Easter Sunday in church. What better place to celebrate, with loving adoration, the resurrection of our Lord?

There were fabulous talks given about various topics that were all extremely uplifting.
However, during one remarkable lecture on removing yourself from pride, I found an inspiring thought come to my mind.

I used to be an incredibly optimistic person. During my childhood and well into my high school years I had an unbridled optimism for life; although let me be quick to mention, it was an attitude of optimism fueled by ignorance.

Throughout college and due to a series of unfortunate events, I slowly began to lose that child like innocence, and found myself with a negative attitude in the middle of a pessimistic world.

By the time I moved to NYC, I was at my personal rock bottom. After spending 2 1/2 years in the city, I had lost my compassion for other people, my love for myself, and any optimism I once had. I was a realist (as New Yorkers like to call themselves) and did not want to be viewed as ignorant.

Since returning back to NC, and deciding to serve a mission I've felt the desire to have my optimism back. However, I always ended up thinking to myself 'how can you gain optimism through ignorance when you already have knowledge?'

Today in church this thought hit me like a ton of bricks. So much, in fact, that I had to scribble it down in my journal:

"It's time for me to find my optimism. Before I had optimism through ignorance which turned into pessimism with knowledge. How do I go about having knowledge and optimism? God."

The key to having a remarkable attitude and extreme knowledge of the world is through the grace of God. He will give me the strength to have the best of both worlds. He will help me to see the Eternal perspective. In short, I look forward to reaching a point where I can say I am an educated optimist.


4.04.2011

The Target theory



After years of contemplating love in all it's definitive forms, i've come to the conclusion that I don't believe in soul mates. This doesn't stem from a negative 'down with love' ideal as most people suffer from. I have nothing but optimistic excitement for the future of my love life! However, it does stem from a few hypotheses that have proven themselves into one solid theory: The Target Theory.


This theory is based on the notion that if you take any two people in the world, and their sole purpose is to make a marriage work, they can have a successful marriage. (Successful meaning each is content in their relationship, and they remain married their entire lives). A lot of people have immediate problems with this beginning statement. However, the facts support it: " while divorce rates are between 40 and 50% in Canada and the US, arranged marriage statistics show us an average divorce rate of 4% " (1). Of course arranged marriages are mainly practiced in societies where divorce is forbidden, but the statistics are the same for US arranged marriages as well. Simply put- in most cases divorce stems from a selfish partner. Any two people can make a relationship work if it's their mutual number one goal.

A target (as seen above) starts off with one big circle. As you continue further into the target, the circles become smaller, until reaching the smallest circle in the middle.

I am a firm believer that the closer you are to your 'best self' (the innermost circle on the Target) the better mate you will attract.

The outer circle represents you as your adequate self. In the three basic realms of your identity (physical, mental and spiritual) you are extremely out of touch. The outer circle also represents about 20 people who you could meet, fall in love with, and have a successful marriage with. Those 20 people are in the same position you are; they are adequately living their lives and not reaching their full potential. Will it feel like your soul mate? No. Do I know dozens of people who have these marriages? Yes.

The next circle inward represents the 'fair' you. This is a more improved version of yourself than the last circle, but you have in no way mastered your physical, mental or spiritual self. Because you are better, the amount of people who will meet in this group shrinks to about 15. Your marriage will be a little more fulfilling than those in the outer circle, because both you and your spouse are putting a little more effort into your lives.

The next circle inward represents the 'better' you. You've mastered one of the three aspects. Perhaps you are extremely spiritually connected to God, or you are in peak physical shape or you are at the top of your scholarly game. However- you've only mastered one. You are still lacking in the other two areas. Due to the fact that you are better than the last circle, the group shrinks to about 10 people. There are 10 people in this world that are on the same track as you, and your marriage will be delightful, but still difficult.

The second to last circle in, you've mastered two of the three things, and there are about 5 people that match you in the world. You and your spouse connect on several different levels, but there are still things that feel less than perfect.

The last and smallest circle represents you at your full potential. You are consistently working on being your absolute best self, and because you are doing that, you will only allow yourself to end up with someone who is striving for the same things you are. The kind of love you have will feel like soul mates, because you not only love yourself, but you love God, and can in return love unconditionally- so can your partner. There are only 2-3 people in the world that match you at this particular blissful point. I have met a few couples like this in my life and they still seem madly in love even after 30 years of marriage They keep growing towards their better selves together.

We have control over our destiny, and I believe that who we end up with, is a direct reflection of how well we are doing in our own lives.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and theory- i'm sure there are many exceptions to this one as well. All I know, is that I want to reach the point where I am close to my best self before I meet the man that I will spend the rest of my life with. I won't settle for anything less.

1. http://www.everythingengagement.com/arranged-marriage-statistics.html

3.27.2011

I love Oprah's Masterclass....

"When it looks like the sun, ain't gonna shine no more. God put a rainbow in the clouds"
-19th Century spiritual

"I've had so many rainbows in my clouds, i've had a lot of clouds, but i've also had a lot of rainbows. The thing to do it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Be a blessing to somebody." -Maya Angelou

" 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me'. What I now know is that we all become exactly what we believe. If you believe that you can do all things, because you have been endowed a power from on high, given to you by the Grace of God. If you believe that, you walk into the world understanding that whatever problems you may encounter, you still have God to lean on. "- Oprah Winfrey

"My confidence comes from knowing that there is something greater than myself that I am a part of, and is also a part of me. I call that God, and I do nothing without that understanding."- Oprah Winfrey

"How I think one matches one's life is to understand you are co-creating that life with the ultimate creator. Not understanding that puts you at your own pitiful, meager little will. And everything is left up to you. And you can't do it, you cannot survive in this world by yourself, just believing in yourself. You're not big enough to do it. I'm not big enough to do it. Nobody is big enough to do it. You have to understand that your very presence here, as a human being from earth, came from something greater than you."- Oprah Winfrey

"Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for the moment that is to come" -Oprah Winfrey



Some very wise words, from some very wise women :)



3.22.2011

It's that time of year again... Baseball time!



If you know me, you know that I am a huge Major League Baseball fan. If you know me well, you know that I am a die hard Seattle Mariners fan.

Before you start laughing too hard at my losing team, you may want to understand where this love has stemmed from.

I was born in Anchorage, Alaska on the 10th of March, 1985. Within 2 weeks of my birth, my poor parents packed everything up and moved to Seattle, Washington. My father recounts that within 2 months of moving, we attended our first Mariner's game as a family. That means that I went to my first Seattle Mariners game when I was not even 3 months old! Needless to say, being a Mariner's fan has literally been bred into the fibers of my being.

As my father and I sat in his living room this morning shooting the statistical breeze about the upcoming season, I began recounting what I remember from my childhood as a budding Mariner's fan.

My Great Uncle Graham owned a Mariner's fan shop in downtown Seattle, close to the stadium. We would park my Dad's old Toyota Celica near the shop, stop in for a little while to say hello to Uncle Graham, and begin the short walk to the stadium. I remember the blue striped jersey's lined with Ken Griffey's name, the waxy bright blue hard hats, and oddly enough, I recall the little Moose figurines that I so desperately wanted.
I remember that the Kingdome (the Mariner's old stadium) seemed to my young eyes, a cement spaceship. The huge crowds would be herded like cattle, before and after a game, through the spiral workings of the stadium. I recall holding my fathers giant hand, and walking down the winding pathway from our nosebleed seats.

I also remember the backpack we would continuously bring that was filled with cheaper snack from home. Cracker Jacks, peanut butter filled pretzels, and home cooked popcorn!

Quizzically, I interrupted my own recollections to see what my Dad remembered about that time. He said that he signed me up for the Junior Mariner's Fanclub so he could get the cheaper tickets (apparently you got 3 sets of game tickets in section 301- the family section). We also received a pin every year that we were members. He also remembered that my first few times at a baseball game I was terrified of 'the wave'. Every time it would come around, people would stand up and flail their arms over their head; I would start screaming bloody murder. I have no idea why, but that story made me laugh with such delight today!

Of course we moved away from Seattle and were forced into a life of Triple-A baseball (the Durham Bulls) because NC, SC, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee all lack a major league baseball team.

Right after I graduated from High School, my Dad began taking my siblings and I on an annual baseball trip to see the Mariner's play some team in their home town. These trips have been some of the best memories thus far in my life.

Honestly: Who could forget an perfect sunny afternoon game in Boston Massachusetts, on the 4th of July, seeing their favorite team win against a top rated Red Sox...?
Not this girl :)



Baltimore Orioles vs. Mariners


The Journey Home... In Seattle at the new Safeco Field


Washington Nationals vs. The Mariners

3.18.2011

Dear Americans,

I believe that we all have the right to our opinions. Even the stupidest of people have a right to say what they want to say; however, I am having a really hard time with political opinions as of late.

If you are a staunch republican that watches FOX News 24/7 or a liberal democrat whose idol is Stephen Colbert, I get it. People are different and their walks of life contribute to their overall beliefs. No two people will ever be the same, therefore no two people will ever have the same opinion. What I cannot stand though, is the amount of disrespect people show for this country's leaders.

I have now deleted 3 people from my facebook friends list for rude remarks about our president. Honestly, he is a human being who is doing what he thinks best. You don't agree with him? -Fine. Write a post about what you would do differently and your frustrations with his choices, but don't call Obama names and feel as though you've somehow 'contributed to your cause'.

I am not the smartest person, and politics often confuse me. However, what I base my life around is Christian core values. You may not agree with someone but do not spread hatred by insulting them repeatedly while you sit on your couch and comment like a pro-nazi peanut gallery. Come on people!

Did the shooting in Arizona teach you nothing? You can't fix anything with hatred. Have you no compassion for others? 99% of the people that hate on our president wouldn't know where to begin with a job like his.

Where did this blatant hate come from? Does it stem from frustration that you don't make a difference in this world, and feel like the only thing you have control over is opinionating?

I just don't get it. I don't understand how you can teach your children compassion by insulting a man who literally has the weight of a nation on his shoulders.

There is a difference between insults and opinions. Learn it.

"I always looked upon the acts of racist exclusion, or insult, as pitiable, from the other person. I never absorbed that. I always thought that there was something deficient about such people."
Toni Morrison


3.13.2011

Be Still My Soul


Be Still My Soul
The Lord is on Thy Side....


Oh how my soul has been restless over the past week. I've always been told that before your mission is hard due to the overtime Satan starts putting in to knock you off your path. Well ladies and gentlemen, I am his full time job right now.

My inadequacies are magnified so greatly right now, especially my common mistakes. Satan is making sure that guilt is becoming a dear friend of mine once more and sucking my soul down with it. Today at church I couldn't shake the sad feeling that I didn't belong among such wonderful people, that I was a hypocrite. If only people knew the real me, they wouldn't be so nice to me... a voice in my head kept repeating. What does that even mean? I'm a good person inside and out, it's just not what Satan wants me to believe.

I was able to have the most amazing conversation with my sister this afternoon in which she shared some profound wisdom. I love it when people get me thinking the way she did. I explained to her my mistakes that were causing me guilt, the feelings of inadequacy and how my mission seemed so impossible right now. After a brief pause she said "Do you remember the story of the adulterous woman from the scriptures?"


Here it is:


"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

My sister pointed out that often we are the accusers of ourselves. We tend to call out our imperfections and criticize our flaws; it is as if we are standing before the Lord and saying: "see! I'm not perfect! I do this wrong, and that wrong, and I committed this many sins. I'm not worthy of your grace." (As if to test God, seeing if he will turn his back on us.) Instead, he offers the same advice to us as he did to the Adulterous woman. "Neither do I condemn thee: Go and sin no more".

Corrine then offered her pearls of wisdom. She encouraged me to stop trying to be perfect. She said "you don't have to be humble 100% of the time to still have the attribute of humility. Try your hardest and look forward Courtney. Stop letting your mistakes keep you from achieving your best in the present. Don't condemn yourself because God certainly hasn't".

Today I am thankful for such a wise younger sister who helped pull out of the sadness I was feeling, and helped me to realize that I am a daughter of God. A God that loves me no matter what I do.