Are you in a dysfunctional relationship with a family member or friend?

(Notes – not necessarily quotes – taken in my 2017 journal from Dr. Cloud’s “Never Go Back“)

These notes are from my 2017 Journal, after I had taken my husband back multiple times but he continued to be unfaithful. I thought I could love him into changing. I was wrong. But I didn’t know why this was not working and perhaps it could have worked, if he had wanted the change himself. But as I have shared before, it didn’t matter how much I loved him or took him back – in the end – he still chose to leave. These notes helped me make sense of it all. So, while these notes may not be applicable in your marriage, they may be helpful in another difficult relationship you may be in with a parent, sibling, co-worker or friend.

Everyone Has Dysfunctional Patterns

Everyone has brain patterns and because of sin, everyone has dysfunctional brain patterns.

People that are stuck call these patterns – problems. Do you have patterns – or problems that need changed?

The only way to change is through a wake up call. But some people don’t answer the call. People who successfully break patterns have wake up calls. They have awakenings where they get it! Then, they develop new patterns and let go of their old patterns. These new patterns make them forever changed.

What I’ve Learned

While we all want to believe that we are self-sufficient and can change on our own, usually we need a source outside ourselves to experience lasting change and a change of patterns.

This is what repentance does. When we repent we change directions. We do a complete 180 and instead of going backwards – we start going forwards.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you in a dysfunctional relationship with a family member or friend?

There is always some good in a dysfunctional relationship. That is why we are in that relationship. It offers something we want or need.

If there is pain in a close relationship, we need to try to resolve that pain point. It’s worth pursuing resolution because there is good that comes along with that pain. So we know with change, it can all be good again.

So we try. BUT if it’s not resolved, your relationship may end. Once that relationship ends, we naturally miss the good that that relationship held.

When we miss the good – we start to forget the pain.

When we miss the good and forget the pain — that leads to letting that person back in our lives again.

Now watch this – this is where the unhealthy cycle begins.

With the good that you regain from getting that relationship back – the pain returns as well. If that person did not change – the pain will be too much and you will separate again.

And so the cycle continues unresolved.

To go back into a close relationship with someone who has not changed – you are destined to repeat the same cycle over and over.

So what should we do?

We cannot go back until the variables have changed. Something must be new about the other person or different or we will repeat what has already NOT worked.

You cannot change other people. You can not change something you have no control over. You can only change yourself and your responses to the person that is hurting you.

If the other person feels no need to change – they won’t change and it will never work. The reality you need to face is that you want this relationship more than they do.

Every single one of us has dysfunctional patterns because we all sin.

We all make mistakes. And so it’s important that we self-reflect and be sure we are not part of the problem.

Dysfunction comes when we exert effort to solve a problem and the problem gets worse. As we try to solve problems – we end up further from each other rather than closer. This hurts. And sometimes we have to stop trying and give it to God in prayer.

But what about love?

As children of God, we are always to love – love our neighbors and love our enemies. But we are not called to trust everyone or be in a close relationship with people who knowingly hurt us time and time again.

Conclusion:

1.) Do not try to be close to someone who is hurting you over and over unless something is new or different in that relationship.

2.) You cannot change someone else but you can be a change agent in their lives.

3) An open system brings change – meaning – bring in the Lord and new people, new coaches, new counselors, new paths, new principles and new patterns.

4.) If someone is not open to bringing in the new and has a closed system – meaning – they will not turn to the Lord, a pastor, see a counselor, read a new book, or be open to new paths — they will not change.

Are you in a dysfunctional relationship?

You cannot change someone else so…pray and ask the Lord to help you understand the patterns in your own life that are causing pain. Let this be YOUR wake up call to create new patterns and new paths in your own life. Ask God to help you change and then get to work changing yourself!

If you need help with that…I’ll be posting more here – so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the posts!

Keep walking with the King,

Courtney 🙂

You Can’t Use an Egg Unless it’s Broken

(Courtneys notes from July 2022, podcast with Brian Tome)

I love eggs! I eat two almost everyday for lunch.

Eggs are pretty useless until they are broken. Once they are broken they have so many uses! You can scramble them, boil them, put them in your fried rice or make chocolate chip cookies with them.

A broken egg isn’t pretty – but once it’s put to good use – they are wonderful!

And truly…You can’t use an egg unless it’s broken.

Is something in your life broken?

God wants to use our brokenness.

Perhaps you have a broken relationship, a past failure, or a current struggle you cannot overcome. Perhaps you have prayed and prayed for relief and you feel like God is not hearing your prayers.

Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble.”

John 16:33

This is a promise.

So if you are looking for an easy life – stop looking for it because you won’t find it. We all have trouble. Instead take a look at this promise…IN its context:

“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

He told us we will have trouble SO THAT we would have peace in him. SO THAT we would take heart. SO THAT we would remember that he has overcome the world.

Do not lose heart!

I heard this illustration once by Brian Tome and wrote it in my notes – he said:

A broken horse lives longer than a wild horse.

A broken horse is stronger and faster than a wild horse.

Breaking a horse is essentially freeing a horse.

Sometimes, as we face our brokenness we need a perspective change. Consider, like a horse that has been broken, your brokenness has made you stronger. Your brokenness has even freed you to be more used by God than before you went through that hard thing.

You see, your brokenness has made you less self sufficient and more dependent on God. It has made you more compassionate and understanding to the hard things that others go through. And it has made you pray more and seek God more.

Truly, your brokenness has become beautiful in the hands of God.

Keep trusting him with the reins of your life and keep walking with the King,

Courtney

When You Can’t Take it Anymore

(Courtney’s Notes from June 2022, The Emotionally Healthy Woman)

I finally had made it to my seat on an airplane headed to Florida and I pulled out a book I had been saving to read. I opened to the introduction and the title of the introduction reflected the way I had been feeling inside.

This past spring my son graduated from high school and so the day after graduation we threw a wonderful graduation party with over 125 of our friends and family there. It went beautifully and I felt so blessed…

But I was also exhausted.

Relief came over me as I sat in that airplane seat headed to Florida.

I did it!!!

With God’s help, I had raised my boy – from birth to adulthood. I homeschooled Alex from Kindergarten through 6th grade and when his father left, the kids both began attending a local Christian School.

The years of homeschooling were not easy but they were nothing compared to the junior high and senior high years of raising the kids full time, without their father in the home. (I’ll write more about raising teenagers another day but for now…this book!)

I opened to the first page of the book, The Emotionally Healthy Woman and the titled reflected my feelings… “When You Can’t Take It Anymore“.

And my notes began…

Traditionally, the Christian community hasn’t placed much value on quitting. In fact the opposite is true; it is endurance and perseverance we most esteem.

pg. 15

Yes! That’s me – a girl who refuses to quit.

From the outside looking in, my world had not skipped a beat since my husband left. It almost looked like nothing had changed to those on the outside and yet everything – absolutely everything inside my home had drastically changed.

Endurance and perseverance are the marks of the work of God in our lives and I can testify – God has been my refuge and strength! But there are some things in life…that are not good…that we must quit.

The kind of quitting I needed to do is the kind that comes NOT from weakness but rather strength.

Because Biblical quitting goes hand in hand with choosing.

Like choosing to quit fearing what others think and instead choosing freedom.

I think I’ve always cared about what others thought of me but I had never been OVERLY caught up in that.

My mom had once told me – “Courtney – you guard your character and let God take care of your reputation.

And so I have trusted God with my reputation, while following hard after him and his ways. But there were many days it was hard to show my face.

I recognize now, that was the enemy lying to me. He was trying to keep me in the dark but God wouldn’t let me stay there too long and I’m over that now.

It has been said that a person who has nothing left to lose becomes the most powerful person on earth.

pg.27

I’m so thankful to be free!!!

But goodness, the fear of what others thought of me gripped me for years following my divorce. I wondered what other people were saying behind my back and sometimes I didn’t have to wonder – because they said it to my face! The church is not always gentle in these sorts of situations.

But this…

The gospel frees us to understand who we are in the light of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. We have value and significance but not for what we do or what others might say. We are “love worthy” because God loves us. God’s perfect love drives out any fears of what others think. We discover that his love, as the psalmist writes, is better than life.

pg. 36

You see…

The depth of our twisted desire for a counterfeit validation outside of the love of God is more far-reaching than we realize.

and so…

The decision to quit being afraid of what others think is not a one-time act but an ongoing spiritual discipline.

pg. 42

If this is something you struggle with too – I just want you to know you are not alone – and it is not an one time act but an ongoing decision.

I’ll be back next week to share more of my notes. Until then…keep walking with the King <3

Courtney 🙂

Wow! An Entire Year has Passed!

I can’t believe an entire year has passed since I last wrote here!

Last May, I started this blog imagining I would begin to write about the struggles, sorrows, defeats and victories the last few years have held.

I missed the old school blogging I used to do over at WLW (back in 2008 through 2015) – where I shared from my daily life. And since I had been through a dark season and felt like there was some closure there – I was ready to open up again.

And then summer hit — and the kids were home and the unexpected happened — I met a man – a wonderful godly man (to read more about him go >>> here)! And while that was the best surprise of 2021 — a lot of my free time to write was used as we started dating and falling in love.

But that was God’s timing, not mine and perhaps God wanted me to wait another season or two before sharing here. But this blog has not left my heart. I deeply desire to write about all that God has taught me through the school of hard knocks.

I feel like I’ve been knocked around quite a bit over the last 7 years. I’ve experienced so much spiritual warfare but God! With God’s help – I’m still standing!

So let’s try this again! I’ll be back tomorrow – but it won’t be anything too fancy here so keep your expectations low lol! – this is just an informal place for me to drop my thoughts – away from the ministry over at Women Living Well – as I share life lessons I’ve learned from wresting in the dark while living in the light.

See you tomorrow morning! (If you want to be sure you don’t miss any of the posts – go to the sidebar and subscribe)

Keep walking with the King,

Courtney 🙂

After the Divorce: A Roller Coaster Ride followed by a Slow Fade (Part 2)

My greatest fear after the divorce was final – was for my children and their future. I had been a homeschooling mom for 7 years and going through a divorce with the kids in the home felt…unhealthy. And I was concerned.

I had heard someone say regarding single moms, as long as your children have one stable parent – they will be okay. So that became one of my life goals – to be the stable parent.

And so once the gavel came down in the courtroom, I went to breakfast with my parents and then I returned home – I threw myself down on my bed and I cried my eyes out for 2-3 hours until there was a knock at the door. A dear friend was standing there with a coffee in her hands for me and she came inside and sat down on the couch. I literally sobbed on her shoulder. She cried with me and held me and was the arms of Jesus to me that day.

And then she needed to go because the kids would be home from school soon and I needed to pull myself together – I needed to attempt to be stable.

The next 6 weeks were a blur. My now ex-husband was away in another state and Christmas was coming and so he would return for Christmas. We celebrated that morning together as a “family” and he stayed for a very long time as the morning turned into afternoon. We had cinnamon rolls and played a family game and then he helped me out around the house with things that needed fixed and we began to talk.

Talks of reconciliation and remarriage began.

By February, he had moved back home and was sleeping in our finished basement.

You know that feeling when you are on the first hill of a roller coaster – a super steep one and it’s clicking as you go up…yeah – that’s how I felt. I wanted reconciliation but I was scared.

Over the next 7 weeks, we went to a counselor for the first time together, we met with my parents one on one to discuss our reconciliation, he came to a family get together and was welcomed back, we attended a new church together as a family, we looked at a new home to purchase to start over again and then he invited me and the kids to go on a spring break trip to his new home a few states away.

After a long flight with a lay over in one airport and then a 3 hour drive, we finally arrived to his new home. My brain was struggling to process what I was experiencing. I put on a brave face for the kids and tried to go with the flow but I was disoriented by seeing this new life he was living.

This is the part where the roller coaster is at the top of the hill and now we are flying down the other side. I figured you only have one life to live, so figuratively, I put my hands up and decided to embrace the moment and enjoy the ride.

We had a great week together. As the week went on, I began to love his new place. The weather was beautiful. The town was interesting. His new friends were nice. I experienced some adventures I had never experienced in my life time. He took us to fascinating places and my time with the Lord there was amazing.

But now here is where the roller coaster begins to twist and turn.

Something was still off with us. By God’s grace, in the most bizarre way – a discovery was made and it was evident his heart was farther from reconciliation than I had hoped.

Now we are upside down on the roller coaster and I want out.

And so we flew home – just me and the kids. For a few weeks there was confusion on his end, as he was torn between two worlds – two women. And then the phone call came…The roller coaster ride came to a screeching halt and this is where we both got off the ride.

I.was.devastated.again.

How did I let this happen? Again?

Am I too much?

Am I not enough?

Why are you not answering my prayers Lord?

My children! What about my children? I was not just fighting for me – I was fighting for them.

I had done absolutely everything I believed I could to reconcile. There was literally nothing left in me to give.

And so with no regrets, I moved forward letting him go…the grief process began as the slow fade of everything my husband and I had built for 19 years of marriage and 4+ years of dating, began to slip away.


Since then, the last three years between us has been a slow fade. There were talks of reconciliation a few more times – that I’d guess you would say turned out to be false starts. We have celebrated every Christmas morning together as a “family” and have done other special days together as a “family”.

Learning healthy boundaries has been difficult for me. My personality tends to be warm, inviting, optimistic, idealistic and trusting – so this has been a challenge for me to figure out what is appropriate – I’m still figuring this out even now.

In 2017, I found a godly counselor to walk along side me as I began to deal with my grief. She was a godsend! I saw her for about a year straight and now I only go to see her when I am in need of working through something new that I am encountering.

Though our separation and divorce was mostly peaceful -I want to be transparent and say that we have had our fair share of times of conflict and volatility in the last few years. It has not been a walk in the park. We’ve had some very ugly moments. Moments I don’t think could be avoided. It just is what it is.

As the kids grow older and parenting gets more challenging, co-parenting is not as smooth as I had hoped. He still lives in his home in another state but also has a home nearby where the kids visit him.

The children are no longer homeschooled. They are attending a local Christian School and thriving there…and only by God’s grace – somehow I am still standing and very stable.

But I have been through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). My journals are overflowing with thoughts of living in the light, while wrestling with the dark and so I pray that the pain and heartache that I have walked through over the last 5 1/2 years will not be wasted and can somehow be an encouragement to you.

So I’ll begin next time sharing my notes. And though I can’t tell all the stories from the last 5+ years – I wanted to share this part of my story as the context for Courtney’s Notes.

Until next time — Keep walking with the King.

Courtney

If you missed Part One titled: The Day My Marriage Died – you can read more >>here<<.


The Day My Marriage Died (Part 1)

I remember waking up on the morning of October 31st, 2016.  I woke the children and got them ready for school like normal.  Then after they were gone, I got dressed like I was headed to a funeral.  I put on a pretty black blouse and black pants and then my parents pulled into the driveway to take me to the courthouse.

6 weeks prior, I had a similar morning.  I woke the children and got them ready for school like normal. Then after they were gone, I put on a black dress, high heels and my husband pulled into the driveway in his pick up truck. He took me downtown to his lawyers office.  He was a gentlemen – getting the doors for me and there we signed the official dissolution and affidavits to file for our divorce.  My husband had written up a dissolution and I had agreed to release him from our marriage because he was in love with another woman – and so our divorce moved forward quickly. 

Back at the house, after we filed – we stood for a long time in the kitchen hugging.  None of this made sense. He appeared to still have love in his heart for me but he continued to move forward with the divorce.

At the courthouse on the day of our divorce, my husband arrived alone in the waiting area and we smiled and greeted each other politely.  It was awkward.  My parents deeply loved him and they had not seen him much in the previous 10 months since he had left me. 

After about 30 minutes of waiting, our lawyers came and got us and we entered into the judges chamber, where we sat at a long table.  I could not see his face.  The judge asked us each a series of questions and then within about 5 minutes – the gavel came down and our divorce was final. 

In that moment…our marriage died.

I stood up with shaky legs and walked out trying to be as strong and confident as I could be. 

I could have easily fallen on the floor in a puddle of tears or ran to the bathroom to throw up but this was not the time or the place.  And so, together we walked to the elevator and the four of us entered and awkwardly stood as we waited to arrive on the first floor.

Once we stepped out of the elevator, we walked through the lobby out to the city street and there my now ex-husband and I, looked each other in the eye and we said a very weak goodbye.  There was sadness in his eyes and I wanted to hug him but it did not seem right that I attempt to comfort him, while he was divorcing me.  And so, he turned and walked straight ahead crossing the street and I turned the opposite way and walked with my parents to their car.

That morning, our marriage of 19 years died and the man I had loved for 24 years walked away onto a new life path, separate from mine.

The year leading up to this day had been excruciating. 

There is no way that this keyboard can type and express the level of pain and heartache the previous year held. Someday I might tell those stories but for now…just know that there was not a lot of yelling and screaming or crazy…there were long level headed discussions in the kitchen about finances and the kids and what the future would look like. 

If you were to be a fly on the wall in our house that year, you would have seen him coming regularly to the house to visit the kids…and me. He would lay on the couch, while I cooked dinner and we would talk for hours or he would lay on the floor and play with the dog, while talking with the kids about their day, watching sports and drinking his sweet tea.  Then he would leave. 

We went on an overnight family trip to a water slide park and amusement park.   We talked, laughed and enjoyed ourselves as a family for those two days. We sat in a hot tub at the hotel talking about life – our past, our present, and our future.  But it was slowly slipping away…two best friends becoming two strangers.   

Sometimes I thought we were almost there – like he was coming home. He would stay the night and be emotional about his choice to leave…but then inevitably he’d be lured away once again. I was always one to follow his lead and since I knew another woman was involved – a woman I had known for 10 years, I knew exactly what I was up against and that I was on the losing end of this. But I did not want the divorce.

The day after our divorce was final, he left town and bought a home a couple states away and a new life of being a single mom began. He comes regularly still to visit and has a place nearby as well, but mostly – it’s just me and the kids doing life these days.

While the year of 2016 was the most painful year of my life – it did not hold a candle to how crazy of a roller coaster ride our family would be on in 2017.  Oh friends, I wish I could tell all the stories but it’s best I don’t.

But I’ll share a little about my own heart struggles next time.

Until then – know this…

When the bottom falls out…

God is the rock at the bottom.

He is a firm foundation to build your life upon. (Matthew 7:24-27)

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
~Psalm 23:4

If you are in a dark valley right now – do not give way to fear. God is with you. Let his presence be your comfort.

He loves you so.

Until next time — Keep walking with the King.

Courtney

Welcome to Courtney’s Notes!

I am creating this second blog titled “Courtney’s Notes” because I need a space where I can exhale.  For over a decade I have been writing and leading women’s Bible Studies over at WomenLivingWell.org . I LOVE it!  It is a complete joy to get to journey through the Bible, cover to cover, with you all.  But sometimes the Lord lays on my heart topics that do not flow with the Bible Studies I am leading, so rather than just storing it all in my journals, I thought I’d create a space to share it with you here. 

I want this blog to be less formal and more old school – like back in the days when I first started blogging.   So it will be random, unfiltered, informal, sometimes deep and heavy as I share more personal stuff and sometimes light hearted, if I share a recipe or a funny story from my life.  I may be here frequently one month and gone for a bit the next, based on how much time I have.  It will ebb and flow with my life, while I consistently show up at Women Living Well and lead Bible Studies. 

Also, many of you know that my life took a hard turn 5 years ago when my high school sweetheart (we dated for 4 years before marrying) and husband of 19 years left.  I have kept nearly everything private during this time but I don’t want it to seem that I have shoved it all under the rug. 

So while I still have a need to keep things as private as possible, I do plan to “go there.”  I am now raising two teenagers as a single mom and so I hope to be able to share some of those challenges here as well.

So, if you want to get my notes in your email inbox – subscribe to this blog along the sidebar.  This blog is not connected to Women Living Well’s blog, so if you are already subscribed there – you still have to subscribe here as well to receive my notes.  

So let’s get started – and see where this leads!!!  

Keep walking with the King,
Courtney