In The Pie.

Three years ago I felt an unshakeable urge to gather Thanksgiving groceries for families who may need them. Urges don’t come with money, resources or need. So I tossed the idea on FB to see if anyone else felt a push to help. They did. 20 something total strangers put together a feast for three families. As the holiday approached the past two years, I did the same. I put a call on FB and many answered back.

A few nights ago a friend of ours who suggested a lady and her family this year pulled me aside to tell me a story. He gives her rides, and had recently chatted with her during a ride to one of her doctor’s appointments. With tearful eyes he told me what the food donation meant to her. She and her mother have had a strained relationship since her father died, and had not spoken to each other in over a year. With one of the pies in hand, and a decent amount of courage, she went to visit her mother and share the dessert. Since then, they had spent time together every day.

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of Jesus. So when I feel “an urge” I almost always know who is urging me. It’s God.

This is were I am going with all this. In my personal life things are changing, people are changing, ideas are being looked at closer, conversations are starting. I have noticed this ugly, nasty fear surfacing in my close and extended Christian community when others no longer conform, believe as they do, ask questions, or share when they are “wrestling” with their faith, as we are clearly asked to do in scripture. Fear that leads to panic, gossip, assumptions, and hurtful words. A fear that marches us right up to an I KNOW IT ALL AND YOU KNOW NOTHING OR WHAT YOU KNOW IS WRONG soap box. The fear brushes the box off and allows us to make complete fools of ourselves. All of this causing me to call a hard time out and step back and step out.

Last night another status on FB propagating this mess of using Christ in a decisive way, dug in deep, reminding me of why I was taking an intentional break from daily FB checking.  On my drive to my Advent study I began to cry. Mostly grieve. So I prayed, or talked it out aloud, knowing what God was saying and moving in me.

It’s this. WE ARE MISSING THE WHOLE THING. God is in the pies. HE IS IN THE PIES. He is in all of the small things that we overlook arguing who is and isn’t going to Heaven. While we continue mouthing, and assuming and fearing for people’s condition after death, He is busy restoring a daughter and mother who haven’t spoken in a year over a pie. As we pray for revival, or healing of our land, or hearts to change, He sends in the most unassuming, unusual suspects to do his work. Those who aren’t busy with who gets in and who doesn’t. He is already answering those prayers. We just aren’t looking in the right places. 

I cried even more thinking of how unsuspected and radical it was that He sent Jesus as a baby FIRST. The prophecies could have read differently, that Jesus would be a man that just showed up to start this huge, loud campaign of change. And yet, He sends an infant who lives a life that is underwhelming, upsetting and questioned by many.

Friends, God is urging us to do big and little things. Urging us to actually practice the fruit of the spirit which is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, long suffering, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) Urging us to SHOW PEOPLE His character, instead of argue over His character. Urging us to gather our people, Christian or not, to do healing things.

If you want to know what’s going on with me, I will tell you. I don’t care what church you attend, how you worship, what you wear, what denomination you feel is best or how you pray. If you tell me you are a Christian, then I am looking for Christ in you. He is pretty easy to spot. I will be looking for love. And since He came for the imperfect He shows up the brightest in the honest and imperfect. I am with you. You are who I want to follow this man with. It’s a beautiful thing that we get to do such amazing work. And if you tell me you aren’t Christian, I am still with you. I hope you see Jesus in me, and my life anyway. One pie at a time. One conversation at at time. One person at a time. One family at a time. One story at a time.

Don’t miss this. Don’t miss Him. Immanuel. God with us. Right now. Let’s get to work. Shout-out to the group that was able to give this Thanksgiving season! We are the stones that are tossed into everyday things to ripple it with kindness!

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Merry Christmas to you amazing readers. So much love. You are welcome here always.

Hey new reader! If you liked what I wrote, I will occasionally write other things! Like Courtney Misener on FB or @cmisener on Insta! See you soon!

The Cussing Toddler

One morning about a month ago Josh and I had a loud, engaging marital debate (fight, we had a fight) about who even knows. I can’t even remember. What I do remember is that in order to get my point across I yelled a word that rhymes with duck. And truck. And luck.

My actual sentence was “WHAT THE (duck, truck, luck..yeah you guessed it.) A-team cuss-word status. I figured in order to get my point across I needed to pull out the big guns. I was also fooled in thinking that our kids were preoccupied with their cereal and cartoons.

With lighting speed those words left my mouth, and our four year old silently registered that sentence in his language catalog. He also decided that those words would be his NEW FAVORITE THING TO SAY. AND SAY. AND SAY.

That night my mother-in-law was visiting and she and my son were sitting on the floor working a puzzle. The pieces weren’t fitting together, so in frustration he said clear as day “WHAT THE (f-word)”. There was a pause,  and as we were waiting to see if any adult would acknowledge his potty mouth, two thoughts went through my head. The first was actually another cuss word. The second, was surprise that he used the phrase correctly.

Liam beep

I smiled at my mother-in-law and raised my hand admitting my guilt. “Me” I said. “It was me. He learned it from me.” We both laughed and later that night Josh and I talked to him about why Mommy should have chosen a different word, and that those words were not words for a four year old, or even for mommies. So I figured, good. Done with that.

Nope. Not done with that. YA’LL WE ARE NOT DONE. This child of mine is on a ROGUE MISSION TO SELL ME OUT any chance he can get. (PS-kids are the worst at throwing us under the bus…punks.)

The following is a list of people who have been told by my four year old that the f-bomb is a bad word, as well as many versions of this word. Am I around when he is dropping this information? NO. As stated above, rogue.

Daddy, Grandma, his uncle, both brothers, two babysitters, his Sunday School teacher, Pre-school teacher, two neighborhood kids, family friends and a handful of monster trucks HAVE ALL BEEN TOLD  by my four year old that the BIG F is a bad word. And he says it plain as day. Why do I know this? Because in giggles and belly laughs they have told me.

And since he has shared this information with his little brother so many times, my three year old is now on board to spread the gospel message that this word is bad. Of course, in order to be a strong communicator one must practice their message often, so that is what my three-year old has been busy doing. Practicing using this new word.

WE ARE NOT DONE. FOR THE LOVE.

Josh and I have a plan, and we will see this through. If it doesn’t work-I may be back asking for parenting advice….but not yet.

This is what I want you to know :: SOMETIMES THINGS HAPPEN IN OUR LIVES THAT SHAKE THE PERCEPTION OUTLINES WE GIVE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE ABOUT US. 

On social media, in relationships, during dinner conversations, in small groups- if you aren’t someone who has been in my inner circle for years or knows me intimately, I am going to drive the information I give you to control what you believe about me.

We all do it. Our manipulation and selectivity of information is exercised many different ways, in order to protect who we want people to think we are. 

And this is who I want you to think I am; I want you to think I am a woman so in love with Jesus,  and her husband. A mother who has fought the good fight with depression and won it, a mother who loves her children and is raising them in a calm home that is free from strife and unrest. A woman placed by God to run a thriving and growing Women’s Ministry who leans not on her own strength, but God’s. I also want you to think I am funny. And pretty. And an amazing writer.

Some of what I want you to think is true. There are, however, large holes in the above story line. For starters, I like to cuss. I said the word like. Because I do. It has become a habit and common in the way I communicate. Many would argue cussing isn’t in the best interest of someone representing Jesus. There are many schools of thought about cuss words qualifying as sin (it would be cool if that conversation did not start here in the comments)-but for me I don’t actually agree with the word being sin, more than the truth that I can communicate my point in a way that may be less offensive-and give people a purer version of the Jesus I claim to be so in love with. ( I am going to stop here on this. The next blog post will open this up more and explain why I have come to this conclusion. Please wait before weighing in until next post)

Right now, this current habit of mine is roaming the street coming out in a blaze of glory through my four year old. And isn’t that just the thing-the stuff we try to hide and engage in secretly, or stuff down, or dismiss as not a big deal, or pawn off , all that stuff always finds away to surface and cling to us like a scarlet letter. All things come to light in the end.

So it’s out. My cussing F-bomb is out. My kids cuss. They heard it at home. If they cuss around you-they heard it at home. No need to wonder.

There is a story in the bible often quoted and used to explain Jesus’s character. There was a woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus to be sentenced. She was brought by the Pharisees who have been compared to the religious community of the time. As the crowd rallied for her to be stoned to death, as was punishment for this act according to old law, Jesus says the famously quoted “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” The woman’s accusers drop their stones and leave.

Jesus, standing alone with the woman, then asks her “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? to which she replied “No one, sir.”

Let’s sit here a minute. This is the good, rich, beautiful truth of life. YOU ARE YOUR ONLY ACCUSER. Your behavior, actions..all that may call attention to something you are doing. People may raise a brow. Ask questions. Judge unfairly. Cast stones. All of it.  But the holes in the reality you are giving people and the reality you are living will accuse you first. It starts with you. And the accuser’s stone you are holding will be the only one that matters. 

And if we know this about people, we can drop our stones and walk away. For those of us following Jesus, we really are all the woman trying “to go and sin no more.” For those who choose another way-we still drop our stones. The holes in our stories will accuse us as sure as we accuse others. So we have to communicate differently. Maybe without the F-bomb.

If you experience my son’s potty mouth, good for you. Because at the very least you will get a decent laugh in for the day. I hope you also know I am human, make mistakes, and am doing my best to let Jesus mold a truer perception for me to hand out. Maybe even one day I won’t hand stuff out anymore, you will just get what you get. I don’t even know if I will stop cussing. (joking-probably gonna stop because..kids.)

Strength for today friends. Love for all your cussing friends. Love for who you really are.

(Above story found in John 8:1-11)

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