It's Time to Thrive

There are times that my heart just aches... for each of you and where you are on your journeys through infertility or fighting for your health; for our country as the past few months have been hard hitting with disaster after disaster. Whether we're facing our own individual storms of another failed cycle and another discarded pregnancy test or facing frightening news of a diagnosis and the uphill battle that lies ahead of us as we fight for our health; or we're seeing hurricane devastation to entire cities and states or crazed madmen terrorizing a city of innocent victims, there's an awful lot of emotion to deal with.

I struggle to find the words that can explain all of the hurts. I wish I knew the right thing to say that could make it all better. It feels like sometimes we're just surviving. One step at a time, facing one battle after another, just surviving. But that's not the life God intended for any of us.

I had no sooner typed those words and was struggling to find the right way to describe everything in my heart when the next song started on my Pandora station...

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died

Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry

So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our soul
With one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun made darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive
— Casting Crowns, Thrive

It is time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive. 

Jesus Himself told us there would be trouble in our world. It shouldn't surprise us when we turn on the news or sit face-to-face with a doctor as he tells us what the test results show. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) When we face these times of trouble and we find that our heart is aching, it's a call to action. It's a call to dig deep in His word, to seek after His perfect will with all of our heart. It's a time to trust and thank Him profusely that in Him alone we find peace - true peace - a peace that isn't all rainbows and unicorns, but deeper than that. Peace that means that even if the world spins out of control around us, our souls are still at rest. Peace that allows us to find comfort in a scripture verse and a whisper from the Holy Spirit on the same day we find out we are miscarrying. Peace that allows us to lend a helping hand to our neighbor even when we also just lost everything. Peace that allows us to rise up together as a community and pray for each other, together, as we battle our own uncertain futures. The peace and power of the Holy Spirit that can allow us to thrive in the middle of our own individual heartbreaks, is also the same peace that will be a beacon to the world when the hurricanes hit or the madman attacks a city or you step into your inner city to serve the homeless and help the poor. 

john 14 27.PNG

With the peace that comes only from Jesus Christ Himself, we are equipped to more than just survive. We can truly thrive, even if... We can cling to our faith and put a smile on our face as we shed tears, because our future does not depend on our current circumstances, but on our future in Christ. We can take comfort in knowing that God alone knows our paths, our dreams and our futures and He is good. If the dreams we have aren't meant to be, we can trust that if we surrender them over to His mighty hands, He will replace them with something so much better. We can thrive. 

Facing these times of adversity allows us the unique experience of realizing our painful times are so much bigger than ourselves. They are times that help our faith grow deep. They can teach us lessons that we would never experience otherwise. They give us the opportunity to have a platform to help others when they encounter similar pain. They give us the chance to stretch out our hands in love and show others just how much God loves us. Our pain can hurt deeply. Our circumstances can bring us to our knees and knocked the air out of us. It can break our hearts. But it cannot steal our hope and peace because in Jesus, we know our broken circumstances are temporary and not without purpose if we trust that we were meant to more than just survive.

Hello My Name Is...

As I talked about in my last post, A Clean Slate, Now What?, it has been a while since I've written last. So there are probably some of you whom I haven't met yet. I so wish I could meet each of you sweet friends face to face over a cup of coffee. I want to hear your story, what you're excited about, what you're struggling with, and how I can pray with you. Since that's a little difficult to do over this whole internet thing, I'll introduce myself and tell you our story and how this little space to hang out in came to be. I love that this is an safe space in the world for us to encourage each other through some tough times. I love hearing from you though emails, prayer requests and comments, so please follow us on social media (@ournotsoengineeredlife), subscribe to the newsletter (I promise we don't send out very many), leave us comments and let us know what's going on in your journey. Your story matters!

The conversations are where the best relationships are born, where we get to know each other and encourage each other through life's journeys. Please know that I do love open comments and conversations, but I also highly respect the need for anonymity, especially when you're struggling through a difficult time in your life. So right up front, I just want to assure you, privacy will be respected as we talk about prayer requests and things of that nature.

my name is.jpg

So with that... Hello, my name is Courtney. I am about as extroverted as they come and a full blown night owl. But many of my favorite people in this world are quite introverted and love running before sunrise... yes, like in the morning. Running... before sun up. I do not get it, but love them in spite of their questionable decision making. :) So wherever you find yourself fitting on the social interaction scale, you are welcome here. I am so thankful you are here and really wish I could be serving you a cup of coffee at my kitchen table right now. So let's just pretend, shall we? 

photo shoot picture courtney.jpg

I absolutely love making new friends, entertaining in our home and laughing over good food and coffee. Despite being an engineer, I'm most happy when I'm cooking, crafting, planning parties or writing. {Proof you can teach an old dog new tricks...} I'm fiercely competitive, love traveling and am not very good at relaxing and sitting still. You will almost always find a stack of three or four books by my bed that span the ranges from inspirational religious books to good old fashioned murder mysteries. Most of my time is now spent trying to make the most of our family time, keeping up with my daughter's endless energy, hosting play dates, or attending school and church functions with her. I am also a Bible study junkie. I thoroughly enjoy leading and being a part of women's Bible study groups, speaking and serving God through bringing comfort and encouragement to others who are walking through a difficult season of life. 

In 2002, I proudly graduated from the University of Alabama { Roll Tide } with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a heart that was deeply in love with this handsome guy who had graduated from the University of Florida as a Nuclear Engineer the previous year. In 2003, Rob and I were married and working for the same company. We spent our first several years together enjoying married life, being committed to our challenging and enjoyable careers, traveling and hosting parties for any and every occasion.

intro collage.jpg

When we began contemplating having a family, we were so full of excitement, nervous anticipation, dreams and plans... plans that two engineers can't resist making. For a marriage made of two people with extremely logical, Type-A personalities, we are in our comfort zone when there is very little "unknown" to be treading in. Why would there be? If we have already thought through all the variables, planned for anything, and are prepared to move forward before we ever take our first step, then the "unknowns" shouldn't be a problem. Shouldn't be... until life throws in an unexpected twist.  That was our state of mind when we entered our "5 year plan" to start a family. We were ready to begin the next phase of our lives with nothing but excitement - and a lot of naivety. We had no idea we were about to step off a cliff that would drop us into an entire world of not knowing what was to come or what to expect - but also into a world where God would become so unbelievably real in every moment of every day that we were forced to recognize that our plans are meaningless unless they fall in line with His plans, His will and His purpose.

God chose this moment in our lives to intervene, take over and show us that He is really in charge. To read more about our walk through infertility, miscarriage and our multiple rounds of IVF, click on the button below. 

Our lives took some pretty drastic turns after realizing we were going to struggle to have our family, but in hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. Those changes and struggles brought us so much closer to each other as husband and wife, and even closer to God. I know now what a tremendous blessing it is to be called Mommy. Now, as a stay-at-home-mom, I am striving to live every day intentionally for God, supporting my husband, raising our little one and taking every opportunity to encourage others. I am passionate about telling our story so that you know that you are not alone and that there is always hope. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I am an open book about our infertility journey and IVF processes. If you are facing fertility treatments, I would love the chance to pray with you or help you navigate through the sometimes overwhelming amount of information and decisions. I am by no means a medical expert, but I have walked in your shoes and understand many of the emotions and fears you may be facing. Please feel free to contact me or visit our prayer page to let us know how we can pray for you during your journey. You are not in this alone.

With love & laughter,

courtney signature.png
 

The Slate is Clean, Now What?

It has been a roller coaster of a year, but as I sit here with coffee in hand, watching birds eat from the feeder on our new deck, I'm ready to dust off the keys and let you in on a little something I've been learning over the past few months. Sometimes, an answered prayer isn't the end of the story, but rather the beginning. What you think may be the ending of a book is just the birth of the sequel. Sometimes the answer to prayer is going to be simultaneously more wonderful and more difficult than you ever thought. A fresh start is anything but a clean slate... but a reminder that we all carry baggage with us, that has to be occasionally purged, sorted and reorganized. But that's not a bad thing at all if we remember where it came from and why it comes with a great importance.

The beginning of this year, my family moved across the state. We went from a terribly stressful, hectic, out of balance life to one that brought the freedom to breathe easier, to play together, to start fresh. God answered our family prayers in a big way. He led us to an amazing opportunity to place priorities back in the right order; to give my husband a dream job that suits both his personality and his passion; to bring us back to my hometown, closer to family and the exciting opportunities a bigger city offers for raising a child. It was a dream come true... except for after years of making life and marriage work in spite of the stresses and unrelenting schedules, I now felt completely lost in the freedom and fresh start this answer to prayer brought.

clean slate.PNG

Over the summer we stayed incredibly busy exploring our new home, settling in and decorating the new house, traveling with my husband's job, meeting new friends and soaking up every minute the last few months brought before my baby girl started to big kid school in the fall. It was a challenging but wonderfully sweet time for us as me and my mini-me learned that extroverts could survive while rebuilding a a social world that had suddenly become very small. Fast forward to the fall and to school days, and our days are now filled with getting my big girl up and ready in time to catch the bus in the mornings and making sure I'm home in the afternoons to welcome her home with a big hug, a bowl of ice cream and listen to stories of how her day went. But in the time in-between the bus routes, I've come face to face with the task God had laid before me years ago.

I had become distracted with all that life was throwing at us. I was trying to just keep my head above water. I was tired, spent and just wanting to hide from anything that might add to my stress. I needed to take a break from writing for a while to get through all the transitions and find my voice again, and then it just became easier to not write that first post. I was selfish and I was scared. But God wouldn't - won't - let me step away from what He's called me to.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When we find ourselves in a distressed stage of life, it's hard to keep that bigger picture. It's hard to not make things all about us. But God is wanting us to trust Him to bring us comfort, so that we can do the same for others around us and point them to God's unfailing goodness. He has reminded me of this time and time again. He allowed us a season of infertility, loss and fear so that we could see His goodness, experience His comfort and see His bigger purpose. It's my honor and privilege to keep telling our story, to listen and invest in yours, to pray with you that you will experience the same comfort I did and see just how much God loves you as He rescues you from your pain.

In reading through the Old Testament this year, one thing has been made exceptionally clear, God doesn't show up in pillars of fire and burning bushes and divided seas very often. He sometimes uses the dramatic to make Himself and His direction known in a very clear way. Then He fully expects and asks us to faithfully follow Him in joyful obedience. He will keep us on the path He originally set out for us, confirming and encouraging us in His precious whispers until it is His plan to use us another way. So I was praying for a change in direction and God was answering me with making the passion that started this website stronger. I prayed for the easy way out and He answered with emails of prayer requests and relationships to remind me of the importance of just following Him faithfully. Encouraging you, praying with you, listening to you and walking through difficult seasons with you is truly a beautiful gift and an honor. The pain I once went through with infertility isn't baggage at all... it's an opportunity to serve Him passionately and to be rewarded with the gift of some amazingly wonderful friends along the way. I have seen God do so many amazing things through friends that came alongside me when I was hurting and continue to see that repeated time and time again when I have the privilege of helping you through your pain. God works miracles through relationships when we aren't scared or too tired or too timid to put ourselves out there to be used and to open up ourselves to let others see our vulnerabilities. When we are weak, He is strong. His Word never changes and He loves us too much to let us hurt alone if we will just be open to His plans for our life. 

God answered our prayers for a fresh start that has turned out to be the beginning to the sequel He started through this blog and ministry years ago. That is to walk alongside you, to encourage you, to listen to you and your story because, my friend, your story matters so much and sometimes we all need a reminder that we are not alone.

With much love and prayers,

courtney signature.png