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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A note for a bride

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Erick and I attend a lot of weddings. We love them. I cry at every single one — which leads, of course, to Erick giving me a slight smirk as he slowly removes a kleenex from his pocket and hands it to me. It’s a fun game we play.

It truly is one of the most wonderful days of your life. I remember mine so absolutely clearly. I remember putting on my veil, seeing Erick’s face for the first time, the heaviness of my dress and the emotions that flowed through my body as I walked down the aisle with my dad. I remember the sting of the birdseed as it was pelted at me by the groomsmen — lovingly, of course. I remember the absolute glee on Erick’s face when we hopped in his dad’s 1960 corvette. I remember dancing with Erick as though it was last night, and it was nearly 4 years ago.

This is the thing, though: When people tell you that your wedding day is the best day of your life, what it sort of sounds like they’re saying is that it’s all downhill after the wedding is over. The serious business starts when the dancing stops. That’s true, in some ways. Marriage is serious business, and there’s a lot to marriage that you can’t see the day you’re wearing white. Your wedding day will, of course, be an extraordinary day. But on that day, you cannot imagine the beautiful, life-altering, soul-shaping things ahead of you. This is just the beginning.

For those of you who are single and still waiting for the right guy, for those of you dating the one who you think will be your man, for those of you counting down each day to the day you can say “I do” — I’ve been there. I understand the longing, the waiting, the excitement. I know you believe that on your wedding day, you will not possibly love your man more. I understand that. I felt that. I was wrong. This is just the beginning.

I’m not an expert or anything, and certainly not on marriage, but I can tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like taking one step into the woods, and with every passing year, you venture farther and farther into the brush, pushing past branches, climbing over boulders, jumping over fallen trees, unable — at a certain point — to experience anything except pine-scented air held in place by a forest that you never want to leave. This is just the beginning.

You will cry together, laugh together, pray and dream and move furniture together. You will learn and unlearn things, make a home, hurt each other’s feelings without meaning to, and sometimes very much on purpose. You will learn over time that the heart of marriage is forgiveness. You will learn in the first 3 months how much forgiveness he requires, and then you will realize, in the 3 months after that, just how much forgiveness you yourself need.

Don’t worry too much about all the advice that other people are giving you, mine, of course, included. Part of being a married couple means that you create a new identity together, “a new normal” is what Erick’s likes to say. Your “normal” is woven from your experiences and histories and lives, and while the whole world is full of opinions, work hard to become your own family, with your own values and traditions, things you always do, things you never do, things that bring you back to why you fell in love in the first place. Carve out time together. There will be seasons that are as dry as deserts, and the history of your love for one another will be the water you need to bring new life and growth.

You, my dear friend, will be a bride for one day, but you will, with God’s grace and very hard work, be a wife to this man every day for the rest of your life. Being a bride is super fun, but it pales in comparison to the thrill and beauty of being a part of life’s truly great partnership — a partnership God created so that we could experience just a small taste of the deep affection He has for us.

Marriage is a never-ending growth process. No other challenge, activity, task, or relationship has required more of myself — my wants, my desires, my time, my energy — than my marriage to Erick. I’ve learned more about what the Lord desires me to be, and the grace I so desperately need to be this woman.

Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are, and then forces you to pay attention to it. I wish someone would have told me this before I got married. But grace abides my friends. For the wives and brides around me — this is my advice to you. The wedding day — this is just the beginning.

1. Marriage is made up of two good forgivers. Because every marriage is made up of two sinners. (Romans 3:23)

2. At some point, you will have to learn that life isn’t all about you. (Philippians 2:3)

3. Don’t listen to women that tell you that passion fades…it doesn’t have to! (see all of Song of Solomon)

4. He wants a kind wife, not a maid or another mother. Be nice. (Galatians 5:22-23)

5. Give your husband the gift of your respect. He needs it more than you know. (Ephesians 5:33)

6. Be mindful of your expectations.

7. Honor the Lord above all things. Colossians 3: 17

8. Find your worth and security in the Lord, and don’t look to your husband to meet all of your needs.

9. Be very careful about reading romance novels, (or watching romantic movies for that matter), they set you up for an unrealistic view of romance.

10. Love is about relationship. The more I love my husband, and seek a relationship with him, the less critical and duty-bound I become. It is similar to my relationship with God.

11. Be thankful for the husband you have. Accept him as he is, not for what you want him to be.

12. Don’t compare! Don’t buy into the game of comparing him with anyone else’s husband.

13. Your marriage is a testimony! “Marriage, if done right, could change the world.” – Kathy Keller, wife of pastor Tim Keller.

14. Pray for your marriage. Pray often. Pray hard.

15. Where there is God, there is always hope. Even for the most broken marriages. “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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Dating…it’s complicated.

Facebook relationships

At TCX — our annual Cru winter conference that takes place right after Christmas — we had the privilege of presenting a seminar. Specifically, we were asked to lead the session on Dating and Relationships.

To be perfectly honest with you, while we were super honored and excited to be asked to lead a session, we felt a little hesitant saying yes because we weren’t the biggest fans of Dating seminars. (yikes, totally just wrote that…)

Let me explain.

Seminars with themes around dating, relationships, marriage, etc. are always really popular at conferences. This is obviously why we have one at TCX each year — students have expressed a desire to learn about how to date well, and that’s a good thing. But so often, Erick and I have felt that people miss out on the breadth of information they could get from a session on Discipleship, Forgiveness, Evangelism, World Vision, insert whatever cooler spiritual topic you can think of here, because people choose to attend the ever-so-alluring relationship conversation. (This is a super jaded perspective to have, by the way.)

And to take it a step further, I (Courtney) have never personally attended a dating seminar and walked away with great vision on how to take-on the dating world well. I’d either leave seminars with a bitter heart toward whoever I was dating because I compared my current relationship to the presenter’s relationship — never a good thing to do — or, I’d leave feeling ashamed because I screwed up my relationships in the past and now had more questions than when I first came into the room. Neither of these are good outcomes. (but just to note here, these outcomes were my own fault.)

As Erick and I continued to talk about saying “yes” to lead the seminar, and begin to process why we felt the way we did about these sessions, we realized that our opinion on dating seminars were formed because of the sin we had in our own life and the unrealistic expectations we created. We were so totally jaded toward dating seminars and we needed to change our attitude. Praise the Lord for the creative ways He works to mold and develop our character.

The Lord changed our minds. Dating seminars are healthy, necessary, and fun. Dating needs to be discussed in safe environments by people who love the Lord and desire for others to see Him in everything — especially dating life. The world paints such a false picture on what dating is supposed to look like. If we don’t talk about it in Christian environments, someone is going to do the talking for us. Talking candidly about how the Lord desires dating and relationships to be is a really big deal.

I have to say that this was a really really hard seminar to prepare (we really didn’t want to screw up in front of 500 students), and it was a great challenge for us. We finished writing the content of our session 30 minutes before we presented it. It was honest, it was a joy to share, and we left the room feeling the presence of the Lord and thanked Him for the privilege of being a voice for Him.

We gave two sessions of our seminar to the students at TCX, with approximately 250 students at each one.

Here is our group in session 1:

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And here is my cooler panorama shot of our group in session 2:

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Thank you to the students who attended the session — you guys were a true joy and you made us feel loved and cared for through your gracious thanks and appreciation told to us in person and over Twitter :).

Also, thank you to the groups of students who waited patiently to ask your follow-up questions at the end of each session. Know that we’ve been praying for you and your relationships/future relationships.

Your desire to learn more about who God is, and the plan He has for you, help motivate us to do what we do each day. The Lord continually reminds us of His grace in our life through the privilege it is to spend time with, and learn from, you.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend our seminar — you can listen to it here:

Christmas Card 2012

We were totally on our game this year. One of our students — Lexi — took this picture for us a few weeks ago, giving us time to order our Christmas cards and get them in the mail before Christmas. We had a blast playing around in Schmeeckle Reserve close to campus.  Thanks again, Lexi — we love our picture. 🙂

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

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No magic in the grey area

I’ve asked the Lord for wisdom as I write this post. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks now, and I’ve finally taken the time to sit, process, and pray about what I want to share.

What I am about to say is my opinion, from convictions the Lord has placed on my heart, and is spoken with gracious truth.

This post is written for women. If you’re a dude, feel free to read. If this were a secret I wanted to keep from you I wouldn’t be posting it on the Internet. You should just know that I’m gonna write like I talk, and who I’m talking to is one of my girlfriends as we sit in the corner table of our local Starbucks sipping Americanos. Cool? Cool.

Okay, lady. There are a few more things you should know (if you didn’t already) before you read on.

One — God desires for you to walk in honor and purity. He longs for you be a courageous, strong, happy, wise, and kind woman. Please hear me correctly when I say that He wants you to be a woman who fears Him. He longs for you to stand in awe of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do in your life. He desires for you to bring Him glory and make His name known.

Two — God’s desires for you, are my desires for you.

All that to say, I’ll begin with this:

I’m not watching Magic Mike and I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey. And you shouldn’t either.

Normally, I do not blog about the books I’m not reading, and the movies I’m not seeing. Not very useful information for you to know. However, this film and this book are quite the phenomenon’s of the summer. I’m joining the conversation because I don’t want you to join the party.

First off, let’s start at the beginning. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. Magic Mike is a film about male strippers. For some women, the decision of whether to read this book or watch this film is simple once they learn what they are all about. However, others are curious and want to “check ’em out.” And others can’t understand why I, and many many others, are upset. “Isn’t this just a book?” “I’m spending the evening hanging out with my girlfriends, we just want to watch a fun movie with some cute guys in it.” “It isn’t real, it’s just fiction. It might even add some fun to your sex life with your husband!” Please don’t justify your actions with these thoughts. And please don’t believe that this isn’t a big deal.

Erotic fiction is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” God says there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in us: our husband. If you’re not married: your future husband. Since that’s God’s plan, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be against His intention. In other words, it would be sin.

Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reading this book and watching this movie is sinful.

Think about it from this perspective. Sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d it make you feel when you learned that your friend, boyfriend, fiancé, or husband exposed themselves to it? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights and Photoshop? Well, he can’t live-up to the unhealthy, unrealistic comparisons you create for him either.

In Philippians 4:8 it says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Can you truly think purely while simultaneously reading this book and watching this movie? The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful to us.

God knew what He was doing when He commanded us to keep our hearts and minds pure.  Exposure to erotica and pornography, over time, conditions your body to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. We’re women. Our imaginations, and the emotions they create, are powerful. The fact is, exposing yourself to erotica robs you of the real sex and relationships the Lord desired us to have. This book and film — and many others books, films, and TV shows for that matter — are not good for your marriage or future marriage.

From the reviews I’ve read, a specific genre is highlighted in Fifty Shades of Grey — BDSM. Do you know what it stands for? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love, not pain and humiliation. This book redefines sex into something evil as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. Stay away from this. You don’t want these images in your mind.

There are many things in this world I don’t need to partake in to know that they are harmful to me. God has spoken clearly, with no grey area, about His desires for my life. When my entertainment choices conflict with that, I turn the other way. You need to turn the other way.

If your heart resonates with mine, share it with your friends. There is too much junk in our world and it is often difficult for us to see what is pure, honorable, and noble. Stand firm, my friend. As Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians, “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

Your Best Interests In Mind

Some of you out there may be experiencing the reality that many of us face at this time of year: wedding season. We have a record-breaking eight weddings to attend this summer.

Sadly, since there are only so many weekends in a summer, we’re going to end up missing a few :-/.

I really enjoy weddings. One of the many reasons is because they always get me thinking about our wedding. A warm September afternoon, a light, crisp breeze, the most beautiful girl, and tons of the people we love all in one place. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have always thought of “your wedding day” as a very small glimpse of what Heaven might be like. That feeling where you look around and all you see are people you love and who love you. The love of a community you experience on your wedding day is a blessing. It allows us to experience God’s love directly through the people who surround us.

Besides the great weather and people on our wedding day, I often think about the message our pastor shared at our ceremony. We love sharing it with people — it was a good one. His charge to us was this: have your partner’s best interests in mind, and (here’s the catch) trust that your partner has your best interests in mind.

Let’s un-pack that a bit, shall we?

The first part is difficult enough. We have to think ourselves, “okay, is this decision, thing I’m going to say, action I’m about to take, etc. — does it have my wife/husband’s best interest in mind?” This charge tests a lot of what you say, think, and do. It is a definite reminder that marriage is about both of you.

I am constantly reminding myself, “how does this affect Courtney? Is this how she would want it?” I’ve come to experience this as more of a thought process than a state of mind. It hasn’t been as simple as putting myself in her shoes, or some sort of pair of shoes that we share. Rather, it is constantly thinking about her as if she was a part of what I’m experiencing, thinking, doing, etc. Even after almost three years of marriage, I’m still not even an average-student on this practice because I’m constantly only thinking about myself and no one else. Selfish, much? Yep, I sure am.

The flip-side of this is even more difficult, however. To trust, absolutely, that your partner is thinking the exact same thing. To believe without a shred of a doubt that the things that your wife/husband says, thinks, and does have your best interests in mind.

This is all about trust. Every moment I have to be in a constant state of trust in Courtney that her actions and thoughts have my best interests in mind. I often think to myself, “well, if I’m struggling with keeping her best interests in mind, she is surely struggling too, so there’s no way that everything she says/does has my best interests in mind.” I have to extend grace to her, and believe the best of her.

We live in a world that is all about self-preservation, self-motivation, self, self, self. To believe that someone else is looking out for you too, always and in everything, is a BIG leap of faith. What’s great about that, though, is that it’s not only a beautiful way to experience your marriage, but it is also an amazing glimpse into our relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s why our relationship with Jesus is essential to our marriage’s health, growth, and development.

If we’ve learned anything in marriage, it’s that you cannot whole-heartedly walk through marriage with the belief that your partner has your best interests in mind without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is simply not within our nature to blindly trust someone else in that capacity.

Our husband/wife will let us down and give us reason after reason to not trust that they will have our best at heart. But if we continue to live our marriages like this, they’ll eventually be built on nothing more than a veiled facade of trust. They won’t be built on the firm foundation of trust that you can only find if you let the Holy Spirit give you the strength to make it happen.

God’s love for us is abundantly more than the love we experience in marriage. The best part is that God ALWAYS has our best interests in mind. Romans 8:28 says that, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” That means that even when the chips are down and you feel like there’s absolutely nothing left, God is still working all things together for good. It is clear in this passage that God has our best interests in mind. Always and in all things He has our best interests in mind … even if we don’t think so.

Getting an opportunity to have a relationship so rooted in trusting love that you believe so absolutely that the other person has your best interests in mind is a great glimpse into what our relationship with God is really like.

Marriage, and our relationship with God are all about truth and grace.