The blinking curser & a new year

Happy New Year.

Yes, I recognize that it’s January 23. I get it. I’m behind. I am aware that it’s been 2014 for a few weeks now, but I’m still living in the past — frantically trying to keep up and stay on top of things. I really had impractical expectations for my life from mid-December until … well … until today, really. Although life has been lovely, adventurous, and fun in some expected and unexpected ways, I’m finding that I’m just not quite caught up.

My heart, my life, and my brain are still processing 2013 — a lot went down last year. I’m doing that thing (maybe you do it too) when I have so many many many things to say that I rehearse thoughts and sentences over and over again so I can share the experience with you, but then I get all overwhelmed. I end up saying nothing. I keep it to myself because so much time has passed that the story has lost its luster. Besides…something, someone, someplace has already happened. There’s already a new story to share.

I’ve been staring at the screen of this neglected blog for months; watching an achingly depressing analogy unfold before my eyes. I was too busy, life was moving too fast, and other things were just too important for me to sit down and write.

There was so much to tell but I didn’t have time/take the time to feed words to the blinking curser flashing back at me. Too much to do. I didn’t leave space for me to write the words so I could actually live in the joy of the adventure He was allowing me to experience.

Much of my life — my relationships, my passions, my rest — took a backseat to my job these past few months. As much as I love my job there’s more to me than “Courtney, Cru staff.” And you may say, “Court, I know that!!” And thanks. Thanks for knowing that. I really do appreciate it. But honestly, I lost a bit of myself there for a bit. It was touch and go there for awhile.

I need me to know that there is more to me than this gig on staff. Yes, much of who I am is laboring with this ministry of college students. They are some of the most creative, passionate, real, and courageous people I know — these men and women show me Jesus and they speak so deeply to my soul. I LOVE that I get to see them every day as part of my job. I’m blessed. Truly. But my ministry — the life God has entrusted me with — is more than just them.

It’s my walk with Jesus, my service to the Savior who saved me and gives purpose to my life. It’s my sweet and brilliant husband. It’s the gifts God has given me to write, and create, and design. It’s relationship with friends who don’t live in my city and have known me for years, and it’s relationship with a friend who’s known me for just a few months and is just beginning to see the real story.

That’s my ministry. That’s His ministry. And I confess that I haven’t been the best steward.

So in the spirit of grace, a desire to pursue holiness out of a deep desire to make Him known to the world, and to share the stories with you, here’s a massive, rambling post about all the things that I may or may not finish talking to you about. 

I’ve planned at least 10 posts in my head — on finishing our support and reporting as full-time senior staff this fall, something we’d dreamed of for years; on moving into a house from our tiny apartment (it’s a great story, I’ll tell you eventually); MC’ing a conference, one of the favorite things I’ve done on staff with Cru; the end of the busiest five months of my life (seriously, never been busier); learning more about my emotions and how I’m discovering more about my temperament and why I cry so easily; my youngest brother graduated from college and is signing up for the Army, so many emotions; Christmas and how our life is changing and flowing and how it just felt different this year and I haven’t put my finger on why yet; the craziness and blessings of TCX and how much I love my job; parties in the new house, so many parties, and I’ve loved every moment; coming back to our staff team, only to leave soon after for a sunny, warm and lovely adventure to Los Angeles to visit some very very dear friends and hang out with 400 Jesus-loving Asian Americans who know they were made to be known and make Him known.

That’s the cliff notes version.

I think I’m ready for it now. 2014 is gonna be a good year.

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Life around my table

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I recently read a book and I felt so understood. Not that I walk around the world feeling misunderstood on a regular basis, but when I read Shauna Niequist’s words from her latest book, “Bread and Wine,” I knew I wasn’t alone in my belief that the kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture in my home.

There is a sense of peace you experience when you read another’s words and know you have a connection. You understand the joy she’s talking about because you’ve experienced it. You understand the sacredness she’s referring to because food and family and faith are indeed things to be cherished.

And honestly, I didn’t know how deeply I treasured, adored, and needed people around my table until I read this book. I’ve always known that I loved it — but, oh my friends, it is so much deeper than that for me.

“Food is the starting point…,” Shauna says. I couldn’t agree more.

I love community. There is so much beauty when we can come together to slow down, open our homes, sit at each other’s tables listening to one another’s stories for hours and hours. We push our plates back, but then laugh as we reach for just one more bite of pasta puttanesca. I care about loving what we eat, sharing the food with people we love, and gathering people together; whether it’s for store-bought cookies or homemade pie. The gathering is most important. The community is of great significance.

My dear friend Shanti bought me this book. In her sweet note taped inside the front cover she said she couldn’t read this book without thinking of me. She quoted that exact same statement from Shauna. “Food is the starting point … the currency we offer to one another.” Apparently Shanti already knew I embody this truth — she knew me more than I did. Best friends have the ability to discern things like that about us. Thanks for understanding, Shanti.

It’s more than just about the food set around that table. It’s about life. And that pretty much means it’s about everything.

I love food. I love people. I love when the people I love are sitting around my table eating food. It creates a joy in the depth of my being. I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at my table. Bread being torn, beverages being poured, forks clinking the side of plates. The warmth. The community. Joy is all I experience.

There is something so beautiful about a houseful of people. There is something comforting about men and women who feel the freedom to come over to my home and make themselves at home. I want you to invite yourself over. I want you to help yourself to my cupboards of glasses and fridge full of food. It tells me I’ve done something right. You feel welcome, you feel safe, you feel cared for and loved.

As Shauna says, “Life at the table is life at its best for me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day. I believe God is here among us, present and working. I believe all of life is shot through with God’s presence, and that part of the gift of walking with Him is seeing his fingerprints in all sorts of unexpected ways.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I think I was meant to be a host — in every sense of the word. I want to cook you things. I feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit by creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. What’s your favorite food? Come over to my apartment and I will make it for you. I feel confident saying that it would bring me more joy to serve you than it would be for you to eat whatever is on your plate.

Thank you for your words, Shauna. For many years I didn’t understand nor have the words to tell the truth about what I really love.

Living life around my table is my favorite place to be.

Grace

Grace is when you finally stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was, that His game is a different one entirely.

These are Shauna Niequist’s words. She’s an author who’s wit, honesty, courage and writing style intrigue me. I read one of her books more than a year ago but then randomly picked it up this week, flipped through the pages, and stopped on this quote. I really appreciate her words, and if we knew each other through more than just twitter, I think we’d be friends.

These past few months have been all about grace. Have I ever fully understood it? I honestly don’t believe so. Grace isn’t a new idea at all, but it is a big theme in my life right now. It has been for awhile I think, I just wasn’t paying attention. But like anything, once you start looking for something, you find it, or you find the lack of it, everywhere you look.

I think I’m just coming around to the realization that I don’t really want to need grace. I don’t really trust that people will show me grace. I don’t show it to myself well, and when I’m doing poorly, I don’t show it to anyone else well, either.

I’ve chosen to live life grace-less. I’ve chosen to live in a way so that everything is an opportunity to achieve or fail. It’s exhausting to live like that, where everything’s a performance, and you can’t trust the people in your life to give you a break or to give you a second chance or to give you what you really are longing for, which is grace.

If only I would learn.

If only I would learn to rest my entire case on the work Jesus Christ did on the cross.

If only I were so gripped by the magnificense and boundless generosity of God’s grace.

If only I would respond out of gratitude rather than out of a sense of duty.

These are my thoughts. Praise God that the story doesn’t end here. These days, I’m on the lookout for grace, and I’m especially on the lookout for ways that I withhold grace from myself and from other people.

Love came down and rescued me. To my gracious God, clean me. To you I give all my thanks and praise.

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him. – Romans 4:8

Courtney’s Personal Testimony

I was led to Christ by my grandma when I was ten years old. However, it took me nearly a decade to truly understand what it meant to have Jesus in my life and to walk with Him daily.

Through the power of Jesus, and my acceptance of His grace, I was saved. But through the manipulations of the enemy, and my own sin, I began to believe lies immediately after Christ came into my life.

I believed crazy lies like there was only so much room in heaven, and that accepting Christ as my Savior from my sins wasn’t enough to secure my place there. I believed heaven would be “full” when I got there.

I developed a strong fear of death — something that shouldn’t exist because Christ paid the penalty for my sins and I had to nothing to fear now that He was in my life. This fear was crippling to my walk with Him.

I began to fall away from the gift graciously given to me. I grew to no longer rely upon God’s power and strength, but upon my own. I was responsible for my strength, satisfaction and self-worth.

It got worse in high school. I put my reliance in the relationships around me. I invested time and attention into friends and teammates. I sought to be “perfect” for them. The best friend, wisest council, best example, and strongest athlete. I wanted people to rely on me. I wanted to be their “best friend.” I sought respect, affirmation, and love from others.

I would imagine relationships and conversations in my mind and would create “perfect friendships.” I would expect all that I imagined to become true. Each time I did this, I experienced disappointment. It made me feel like was on a wandering path to nowhere.

When I went off to college, I continued to seek out the “perfect relationship.” College was a fresh start. I could find the perfect relationship I was looking for. I did find it — just not from the source I expected.

As freshman year began my life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My identity as student athlete was gone. My life as I had always known it was changing.

There was no specific moment, or special event that led me to feel it, I just knew that something in and around me was changing. Kind of like the feeling you get when you think someone’s following you — but this was a little less creepy. 🙂 I felt something stirring within me. I knew I was being pursued. I began to feel differently about myself. For so long I was lost, disappointed, and dissatisfied. But, somehow, I knew that if Jesus became part of my life again, this pride, sadness, loneliness, and constant disappointment would go away.  Soon, I began to accept, and even welcome, the pursuit.

After a decade of disobedience, the Lord never let me go. He led me to women stronger in their faith to teach me and help me grow. I began to ask questions, and I learned more about Him. I read the Bible again, and I learned that my purpose was to serve and love — not the other way around. He provided the love I was searching for.

The lies of death and of heaven planted deep within me were broken. Before, I was lost, wandering and unsatisfied with life. Now, my life is no longer on a wandering path but on an adventure led by God — the way He always wanted and intended it to be.

The “perfect relationship” I’d been looking for was already mine. And the beauty of Jesus, my perfect Savior and friend, was that even when I lost sight of Him — He never lost sight of me.

Home Sweet Home

There are so many things to update you on. I’m currently having an information overload. I really do promise to take some time to update you this week. When my world stops cooking along at 120 mph I will write you epic blog posts. Epic ones. Promise.

But in the meantime, here’s the “short version” update of our lives.

First, we’re beginning our third week on campus tomorrow. Crazy how the time has flown. We’ve met a lot of students, learned a lot about student culture, how things work (both in ministry and in Stevens Point), and how the Lord is at work in central Wisconsin. God truly prepared a place for us here.

Also, we love our staff team. A lot. Check ’em out. We want to work and play with them all the time. I’m not exaggerating. All the time. Praise the Lord.

Second, we really love living in Stevens Point. It’s a great place. We’re still discovering the ins and outs of the city, and all the hot spots for sushi, burgers and espresso. So far the only thing I’m missing from back in Minneapolis — besides my family and friends, of course — is Patisserie 46. But I always miss Patisserie 46.

Help a girl out ya’ll — do any of you know if there is a Patisserie 46-like place in central Wisconsin??

Third, our home feels like home. We’re unpacked and settled, and we really dig our apartment. As promised, here are some pictures for you.

This is our “entry” way. Erick’s room divider has found a pretty fabulous home in our apartment.

This one side of our kitchen. I have always wanted open shelving, and thanks to IKEA and my amazingly-handy husband, I have some. We LOVE our kitchen. And if you’re wondering what’s behind the curtain, wonder no more. It’s our pantry. The cans of tomatoes and boxes of macaroni and cheese were crampin’ my style.

This is the other half of our kitchen. Erick hung that small shelf above the sink too. He’s so great.

This is our living room. Yep, you guessed it. Erick hung those shelves too. And the TV.

This is our bathroom. I’m only showing you a picture of this room because I really love our shower curtain.  Thank you Target.

This is our office. I’m gonna give you a tour of all three corners. This is Erick’s music corner. He’d prefer a whole music room, but we only have a 2-bedroom apartment. So, corner it is.

This is my reading corner. Those who don’t/can’t play instruments — read.

This is our working/printing/praying corner.

The only room missing is our bedroom. I’d show it to you, but the bed wasn’t made when I was taking pictures. So maybe another day.

And there’s our apartment. Come visit us. 🙂

Get to know us: Day 29

Day 29: Favorite NFL team

Here’s some insight into our relationship. I (Courtney) LOVE football. I love competitive sports in general, but man, I love football. Football Sunday = fun day. The end.

Erick is a little less hardcore. He loves the community football games create (i.e. parties encouraging fun and the consumption of pizza and chicken wings). He doesn’t necessarily need the football, but as he puts it, “it’s a nice touch.” I’m usually the one who obnoxiously runs through the door after church, does a barrel roll over the couch, and clicks on the TV to make sure we see kick off.

A little bit of role reversal exists in the Horrmann household. That’s just how we roll.

And to be even more open with you — we’ve had some knock-down-drag-out arguments about the best teams in the NFL. Like, “for real” fights. This year went to a whole new level because we played each other in a fantasy league. We’re married so we know exactly how to ruffle each other’s feathers. We’re competitive. We get sassy, we totally talk trash about each other’s teams, and we sometimes raise our voices and stand on furniture.

This is normal right?

Erick: THE Minnesota Vikings*

I’ll admit, this season was a difficult one. Full of things like another veteran QB (McNabb) flop, AP injured, having the worst record I ever remember in my lifetime, and … lots of other stuff. Although I stayed true to my team this season, sporting my jersey for every game I watched, I’m glad the season is over for us. Excited to press the reset-button and start fresh next season.

Like most people, however, I enjoy cheering for a team that has the potential to win games (and for most of this season that really wasn’t the Vikings — yea, I can admit it). I needed to find a new team to cheer for. Last season, it was Michael Vick & The Eagles. I was all set to cheer them on for the remainder of this season, but then something unexpected but amazing happened.

Tim Tebow took over as the starting QB for the Denver Broncos.

Tebow Time! Tebow Nation! Tebowing! It all came rushing into my world. Instantly, I became enamored by his presence and couldn’t stop watch him lead the Broncos to victory after victory — all coming from behind, usually in the 4th quarter, and mostly in the last five minutes. Needless to say it made for an exciting football season for the Broncos. A team floundering at the helm of Kyle Orton during the first five games of their season. After a bye week during week 6, the whole offense was Tebow’d and the Broncos went on to win seven out of the next eight games. I watched them win their division, beat the Steelers in the Wild Card game but then unfortunately lose to the Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs (who won the AFC title and will play against the Giants in the XLVI Super Bowl).

I became a hardcore Tebow fan. Routing for him during games, loving his unwavering faith & boldness to put God first in his press-conferences & on the field, his intense competitive nature, and his leadership ability to rally the Broncos to go from season-hopeless to SuperBowl-hopeful.

Also, for those of you wondering, I did beat Courtney in fantasy football this season. Coming in second behind her brother Caleb. Courtney came in third. One of the better outcomes since Caleb and I usually gang-up on Courtney when we play other games together like Sorry, Risk, Cribbage and others.

Courtney: Green Bay Packers

My team is the Green Bay Packers: the greatest NFL organization … ever. They have 13 championships. The most of any other organization in the NFL. I’m from Wisconsin. So are the Packers. They have a culture of winning. I like to win. The relationship just makes sense.

Unlike my husband, I’m not forced to choose a “back-up” team to cheer on because my #1 team chose the frantic “trade/draft/beg for old men QB’s” option versus the traditional “draft talent on draft day” approach. And a note to the Vikings: a new stadium won’t fix your problems.

Okay, I’m done.

I love the Packers. I’ve always loved them. I always will love them. And if you’re wondering, yes, I do still feel the sting of defeat from that playoff game against the Giants. I will move on. There’s always next year. Both for the Packers, and my fantasy team.

And for the record, that ugly purple jersey Erick wears on game day is that of #4. Don’t go thinking Erick is all sweet and innocent. He taunts me on Sundays.

Christmas Card 2011

We were totally on our game this year. Our Christmas cards are done before Christmas, with plenty of time to spare. I will never understand this, but somehow, getting these suckers out each year seems to put me back in “senior year of college procrastinator” mode.

But not this year. This time it was: Us > world.

Seriously, so proud of us. Particularly, me (Courtney). As awesome as Erick is, pumping out the Christmas card is not one of his “to do’s.”

So, correction: Us  me > world.

Many of you will be receiving this guy in the mail. You’ll hang it on the back of a door in your kitchen, or fridge, or wherever it is you display your Christmas cards. But then I thought, “hey!” why not share this card with the world!!! The Internet gives me this power. (Insert obnoxious evil laugh here.)

So here you go world. Merry Christmas from the Horrmann’s.