Filed under: Uncategorized
You may or may not have already noticed, but thanks to the technical genius of my friends at Mixtus Media, my blog has officially migrated to my personal website – AmyCourts.com – in an effort to streamline and simplify everything Amy Courts.
I hope you’ll join me over there. We’ve integrated and upgraded everything into a fancy-shmancy all-inclusive wordpress website, so along with my random ramblings, you’ll also have immediate access to streaming music, free downloads, new music, along with my Instagram and Twitter feeds.
And how does this help you? Well, when you find yourself bored in the middle of a long, uninteresting blog – which you undoubtedly will, because I can’t be interesting or entertaining all the time – PROBLEM SOLVED!
Instead of continuing to read said lame blog, you can look at pictures! Watch music videos! Download free music!
See? Very exciting.
So join me. Head over to AmyCourts.com, and subscribe to the NEW blog…and peruse the new site while you’re there.
As for this site…well, get your fill, cause it won’t be here forever. Or maybe it will. I’m honestly not sure. I’ve heard everything stays on the interwebs eternally. But I won’t be posting to it anymore. And I would hate for you to think I no longer wish to offer you something to read every so often.
Filed under: Activate, Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Politics, Random, Running, Uncategorized
I am woefully aware this morning that I have recently been, uh, negligent as regards daily quiet time to breathe in Scripture and live it out.
Not that I’ve been totally dismissive of spiritual food… I mean, we attend church (most weeks). I download the sermon podcasts from weeks we miss, and faithfully listen while running. I engage in many theological and spiritual discussions throughout the week.
And I swear, I really do love Jesus!
But I am negligent, none the less.
Case in point, number one: Last night, my Facebooking was interrupted by a message from a dear friend encouraging me to read, soak in, and be encouraged by Psalm 107.
So I googled ‘Psalm 107,’ was redirected to BibleGateway.com, and, upon seeing how dreadedly long that stupid Psalm is, I skimmed it, thought to myself, “awww…,” and immediately returned to scouring my Facebook feed for offensive political posts to which I could respond with appropriate self-righteous anger and dismay.
Case in point, number two: Late last week, I was invited by email to join a “Scripture Encouragement Exchange.” It’s like one of those book exchanges where you invite six people, and each of you sends a book to the person at the top of the list (and that person ends up with like 300 books), and then you add your name to the number two slot and forward it on.
Only with this, it’s as simple as sending an encouraging verse to a stranger.
Guess who’s procrastinating, because she “just can’t think of six people to invite.”
I know, I know.
Please line up to punch me in the face. One at a time.
And then, once you’ve punched me, please help:
Send me your suggestions for a good, in depth daily devotional or study of some sort. Your favorite devotional…or Bible Reading guide…whatever.
And keep me accountable.
Because I firmly believe and trust that, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
But I’ve got to let Him plant the seeds and water them if I’m to enjoy any growth…
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)
I’ve spent much of the last few weeks – a month, even – oscillating between sadness, anger, and being generally okay. I’m not so much surprised that finally, after a year, the fact of my hysterectomy and its utter finality are hitting me hard. But I’m often shocked at my reaction. I’m just mad.
At God, for taking away something so essential to my womanhood, to my motherhood, to my personhood…something I rarely ever considered before the fact, and can’t stop thinking about since.
At circumstance. The fact that even though we were planning to adopt before it ever happened, now I’m left with no choice in the matter. The crippling fear that I’ll never be ready to adopt. Angry at the fact that if and when we do, the expense is unfathomable…and it’s not an expense I should have ever been forced into.
Mad at what is and is not. I’m angry at other women who are having their second, third, seventh, eighth babies. The professional preggos. I’m angry that, despite all the effort I made during pregnancy to stay healthy and strong, despite all the prayers for a natural, intervention-free labor & delivery, I somehow ended up here.
I’m mad that everywhere I turn, I feel stabs of accusation and judgement…Fingers pointing, voices screaming I shouldn’t have agreed to be induced. I should have insisted the pitocin be turned off. I shouldn’t have waited so long to call my doula. I should have waited a few more days to let Eli come on his own. I shouldn’t have been so impatient. I should have enjoyed those last days of pregnancy and been aware I might not ever get to do it again.
I’m angry and sad that in all of this, there’s just no answer. It is what it is, and there’s nothing to be done about it.
And the question tearing through it all: WHY? “Why, me, God? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I not good enough to bear more children? Why did you rob me of my life-giving ability and leave me barren and empty? Why are you punishing me – what did I do wrong?!”
I was sharing this stuff with my therapist this morning. She allowed me my interpretation of the situation, but then – humbly – offered her own.
“What if God, your father – not just ‘God the Father in Heaven’ but ‘God your dad’ – saved you? What if He, as your parent who deeply loves you,who would not bear to lose you, and still has deep abiding purpose for you, said ‘No. This will not be your end. This will not be your death. You may lose a piece of yourself, but any loss is worth it to save your life.’ What if this isn’t just the end, but the Beginning?”
Because this is the reality: I danced with death. I received 23 units of blood transfusions over the course of a six-hour surgery, after an emergency c-section. Due to the fact that I’d had such a difficult labor, and the cs, and was 41 weeks 4 days pregnant, my body should have rejected those transfusions…I should have become infected, sick. I should have kept bleeding.
But I didn’t. I lived. And not only did I live, I recovered quickly and flawlessly.
Of all the should- and shouldn’t-haves, that is perhaps the most haunting: I really should have died.
And yet, I’m alive to tell the story.
So as I left my dear therapist’s office, the Spirit brought to mind – as He does – this simple Truth: Much of the time, what happens is simply what happens. It’s not the consequence of some unconfessed sin. It’s not the result of unworthiness, or poor decision making, or of any other human flaw or failure other than, perhaps, the sticky terrain that is our fallen condition.
Rather, it is what must be in order that I may live to tell the story of How God Saved My Life. It is what must be in order that God may be displayed in us.
I won’t lie: it’s terrible. I hate it. I hate nearly every second of it.
But then…I’ll get a message from another woman from another city who lost her uterus, too. Or from a woman who’s miscarried time and again because her womb just can’t sustain life. Or from a woman whose first daughter is growing inside her without a skull, and who will die when she’s born or soon thereafter.
And I know, again, that we’re not alone. That God is giving us language for the unspeakable, fellowship in the desolation.
I know that He is showing Himself to us and through us, using our tragic stories to paint another masterpiece of love beating death.
And I am reminded that we are desperately loved by One who would stop at absolutely nothing to save us.
I think it’s time I strike. That is, take a hiatus. I should specify: An online social networking hiatus.
About this time last year – okay, to be a little more precise, it was about one year and one week ago – I shut down the MacBook Pro and handed my profiles (and I have way too many of them) over to Husband. He promptly changed all my passwords, and I spent a couple glorious weeks offline to await (and then endure) the miraculous birth of this guy: our first son.
I’d expected to bring the phone and computer to the hospital to take pictures of the whole shebang, but it didn’t work out that way (and aren’t you glad you didn’t see it all!). Instead, it was a deeply personal, intimate family-and-closest-friends-only affair. Just as it was meant to be.
It was good for me. It was good to unplug and step away from the public. My pregnancy had been front page news every day (at least, front of MY page news). Many, many, (too) many people were constantly asking “have you gone into labor!?” and “Is he here yet?!” Being 10 days “late,” I couldn’t handle it. I was already fighting God about the fact that this boy just would not come out. I didn’t need to battle friendly but overbearing facebookies and twitterheads too!
I always use the excuse that as a public figure with so many screaming fans* I need to be present on social networks. If I’m not, I’m not connecting (duh) and might well risk losing them…and everything.
But the reality is, it’s a distraction for the most part. From house cleaning. From cooking. From important things. It’s a distraction from my beloved son and husband and friends. While some distractions are good, I’m not sure this one is. At very least, I could certainly do what I need to do on Facebook and Twitter in an hour in the evening after Eli’s alseep, like the rest of the working/parenting public, right?
Then, about a week ago, my friend and fellow singer-songwriter extraordinaire, Tanya Godsey, released this incredible video for her incredible new single “White Page.” I watched and listened stunned, as chills crept up my arms and down my legs (take a gander – you will not regret it I’ve even posted it right here to make it easy for you!). It was just the reminder I need(ed).
You’ve probably read a bit about this past year, and the heavy load it dropped on our shoulders. This incredible gift of a tiny human, built, constructed, perfectly formed in my womb, coupled with the total inexpressible loss of never being able to do it again. The burden of making every single day, hour, moment count…because it’s one of a kind. We will absolutely have more kids, but they won’t have our DNA. So there’s a gravity to raising Elijah that wasn’t there on May 5 of 2011. There’s a heaviness to watching him grow, knowing we won’t get to do this ever again.
So I’m struck with this grave necessity to be present. Not distracted. To see each day as a blank White Page, and myself as a pen in the hands of a writing God with 24 hours of possibility in front of me.
Am I going to waste my day on facebook and twitter? Am I going to be the mom who stares at her computer listlessly while her son begs to be chased? Am I going to be the wife who loses six good hours of homemaking to a phone that absolutely must be checked every three minutes (lest I miss something super important on facebook or twitter while the MacBook is closed)? Am I going to be the Christian who wastes minutes and sometimes hours in silly threads
discussing fighting about “how to be a better Christian” while actually doing nothing – human, Christian, or otherwise?
Or am I going to unplug, pick up my son, stroll him to the park, and engage? Am I going to walk him around the house and watch as he takes his first steps without my help? Am I going to make mommy play dates, and talk face to face with people I actually know, rather than spend all day facebarking at people I’ll probably never meet and won’t like if I do? Am I going to do the laundry before it piles up and we’re out of clothes, instead of spending waaaaay too long shopping online for new clothes I don’t need? Am I going to actually cook these delicious meals I’m discovering online rather than spending so long perusing the recipes that I have no time to cook and have to order pizza instead? Am I going to be diligent about keeping in touch with dear distant friends, refusing to let those relationships slip and slide away?
Because this is the thing about me: I’m not the girl who spends most of her time on Eff-book communicating with my real-life friends. I do catch up with some old high school friends on Facebook. But for the most part, I just stalk strangers and re-post stupid stuff. Theoretically speaking, I communicate with my real-life friends in real-life. But reality shows me twisted to the point where I (barely) communicate with everyone on facebook and with almost no one in real-life. And it’s no good.
I want to notice the daily growth and actually watch my son as he changes.
I want to read him books (Books! Pages filled with beautiful, fun stories! Remember them!?), and sing songs with him.
I want to teach him the alphabet, not Big Bird or Dora or even the super smart readers on “SuperWHY.”
I want to water some old friendships that have some droopy leaves.
I want to plant new seeds with some people I’ve recently met who I’m sure I’ll like.
I want to date my husband, play games with him, talk to him face-to-face, and remember what it was like 7 1/2 years ago when we were still enthralled with each new thing we learned about each other. (Surely we’ve changed enough over the past year alone to guarantee us a few into-the-night get to know you dates, right?)
I want to get to know my neighbors and their kids.
I want to make my house a home.
So, facebook, twitter, and wordpress, I think I’m ready to bid you adieu, at least for a bit. I’ve got company coming this week to celebrate my can’t-possibly-be one year old dream boy. I’ve got a sick baby who needs my attention and is craving the cuddles, and I really ought not refuse him. I’ve got books to read, rooms to clean, and a husband to cook for, clean for, seriously make out with, and probably seduce. More than once.
See you later, gators.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 2012, baby, family, Music, resolutions
Because it’s what I do every year (or at very least, think about doing), I offer you this year’s Top Ten of 2011 year in review. It’s fun, right? So here you go.
10. We moved to Minnesota!
It’s a bit sad for me, because I do love and dearly miss Nashville. But moving made practical sense for our family, and in truth, I don’t *need* to be in Nashville for music anymore. It never really embraced me, and I’m not sure I embraced it, professionally speaking. I guess. Maybe I’m making that up. Either way, the move was BIG for all of us. No more gentle winters…except this one, of course. Because, as is perfectly predictable, THIS is the easiest winter in Minnesota’s memory. Anyway, it was still a big move. We’re now Minneapolisians, and loving it. And I’m sincerely looking forward to learning the musical terrain of the Cities and diving in, head first, to hopefully find my place here.
9. We bought a house!
Upon deciding to move to Minneapolis, and finding that rental properties were astronomically more expensive than buying, we took the plunge and bought our first house. It’s a quaint 19teen’s house with exposed beam ceilings, a built-in China hutch, its original wood floors, and as unique a floor plan as one could hope for from an early 20th century home with four bedrooms and a sun porch upstairs. It’s got a full basement AND attic just waiting to be finished and made into a media room and studio (respectively). And we got it for the bargain price of $70k from a woman who’d owned it since the 1960s and raised her whole family there. It was rife with old memories and ready for some new ones. So we pounced!
8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and…
1. >>>WE HAD A BABY!!<<<
His name is Elijah David. He was born on May 6, 2011. And he, my friends, takes the cake.
Happy 2012, from my adorably perfect family (made thus by my incomprehensibly gorgeous 8 month old Elijah, and his charming 15 year old big brother Matthew, and only barely crippled by their silly parents, me and Paul) to yours. May it blow your mind.
ps: in fairness, there were a couple more exciting bits about 2011: I wrote a few handfuls of amazing songs with brilliant songwriters Bethany Dick-Olds and Eddie Christy, and Bethany and I took our show on the road – along with Elijah – for two mini house show tours, in July and in September. Turns out my sweet boy is a road dog after all!
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It’s been an eventful week for my friends…and a bit of a rough one for me.
It was precipitated by the happy fact that a few weeks ago, Elijah started sleeping through the night, thereby ending our sweet, middle-of-the-night interludes. He’s growing up too fast.
Then, last Monday, Paul ran his hand over my belly, and like a shock wave it hit me that we won’t ever again get to feel a tiny growing baby dancing inside me.
Then, stupid Betty Draper didn’t want to be pregnant with her third baby.
Then, three friends had their second or third babies.
Then, a few more friends posted magnificent announcement photos of their brand new baby bellies, or new pictures of their ever-expanding, almost-ready-to-pop bellies.
And then, just for good measure, one more had her second baby.
Sometimes, it seems, the mountain literally crumbles when you’re already in the valley.
So, like a emotional champ, I skipped over to Google and typed in “emergency hysterectomy.”
(I’ve done this before. It rarely ends well.)
I read scattered findings – because there are no major, concrete studies that tell us anything conclusively about why or how many women’s childbearing days end this way – and came across one teaching hospital’s study at which 22 out of 110,000 women had emergency hysterectomies over a ten year period, all due to similar complications but otherwise for no discernible reason.
After wading through thickets of anger, regret, and crossing the inevitable “What if it was my fault? What if I had just waited for Eli to come on his own, instead of inducing labor and starting this ball rolling…?” river, I reported these findings to a dear friend who shared my experience. And her response was, “When you do the statistics it sucks – 1 out of 30,000 or something – really couldn’t I win a really good raffle? Or the lotto?”
It sounds funny, but it’s a healthy reality check too: This can’t possibly be my – or anyone else’s – fault, ’cause massive postpartum hemorrhaging leading to near-death and the consequential life-saving emergency hysterectomy is, as Marilyn pointed out, about as likely as winning the lottery.
That to say, there’s no point in wondering where blame lies, because it doesn’t. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen…at least, not to more than a couple dozen in one-hundred-and-ten-THOUSAND women. When it does happen, it’s a classic fluke. The terrifying exception to an otherwise predictable rule.
So…where do I go from here? What do I say, and how am I to feel, when part of me is truly rejoicing with my friends for their healthy new babies and perfectly normal wombs, and the other part is screaming “WHY!?!”
I mean, where does the 30-year-old widow turn when her friends are celebrating one anniversary after another while she grieves another year without her husband? Where does the almost-mother turn when others are celebrating birth after birth while she grieves the loss of her stillborn daughter?
To where does anyone turn when the most senseless devastation befalls her, and there simply are no answers for the questions burning the last shreds of her faith?
To the One who is so intimately acquainted with grief and sorrow that He knows the best – and only – thing to do is invoke the all-knowing groans of the Spirit who so perfectly and adequately pleads the Father’s mercy on our behalf.
To the peace that lies solely in the bittersweet company of the Knowing few, who can grieve together.
To the Comforter who promises that all will be made right, in the end.
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sometimes there is
no bright side
no silver lining
sometimes the grass is really greener
because there it is
and here it is not
sometimes no words of comfort
no healing balm
and all you can do
– what you must do –
is feel and feel
and weep and feel
until you’re all cried out
your heart dried up
is a gift
but even still
the dark is not the gift
nor even the light that seeps
but the knowing it
cannot stay dark
though a cloud may