Today is our first Testimony Tuesday!!! I have someone different scheduled out every week for almost a year to share their story. They will all have different stories that I hope will resonate with someone out there! I'm so excited about this. My prayer is that through the stories of these - somehow you will see Christ in a fresh and new way!
Our very first one comes from Courtney. I first met Courtney when I was introduced to her amazing ABC Scripture Cards (Which were featured on "The View" this year!). Courtney has a huge heart for Jesus and for mothering and for sharing the gospel. I've had the chance to meet her and become friends with her and I've been so blessed by her. She has a great blog over at courtneydefeo.com that you need to put on your short list if you want inspiration and encouragement. Courtney is a great cheerleader to everyone she meets!
Why Courtney (McClure) DeFeo loves JesusIt’s not often to get the chance to tell thousands about your faith. So, this is my story – the short version. My story is no different than yours. I’m a girl who has a giant hole in her heart. It can only be filled with the love of a Father. The one who created me. Some of you know this hole and this ache very well. Some of you are feeling this tug right now and you don’t know what to do. And, some of you honestly think all of this Christianese talk and “testimony” stuff is a bunch of hogwash. Can you hang with me for a minute and let me encourage you? I am going to try to be so open and authentic (at the risk of mortifying my mother). If you are unsure and skeptical, this is for you. And if you went to Auburn with me and are scratching your head and wondering if this is the same Courtney you saw at the Sig Ep house - it’s me, keep reading.
The early years I was raised in a home overflowing with love, but it was not perfect. Two parents that didn’t just make us go to church – they believed in it. We went to a non-denominational church packed with families that truly loved and supported each other. I saw service and generosity and kindness and compassion up close and personal. I am still benefitting from the prayers of that church family. My mom and her friends have prayed for my husband and my kids before they even existed. I saw my parents go through tough times, but I knew our family was always secure. They believed Jesus Christ deeply loved our family. So, I believed that too. I saw them handle our absurd teenager disobedience like champs. My sister and I decided church youth group and doing the “right thing” was a little dumb around high school. We had better things to do like “live at the dance studio” and “hang out with the cool kids.” I wasn’t crazy wild, but wild enough to make some really dumb decisions. This was when I hit the pause button with God. I still believed the Bible was absolutely true. I just started questioning whether I needed it day-to-day. I thought my way was more fun and more fulfilling for this season of life.
The college years Auburn, oh my precious Auburn days. I am pretty sure I have internal damage to the stomach from the days of laughter. Friendship like none other! Partying like none other! However, I literally cringe when I think of the desperate moves I made all for the goal of being accepted. Just ridiculous. I wish I could have the perspective and confidence that I do now – rooted in God not myself. I’ll never ever regret the moments spent, memories made and people that I met.. many that changed my life for the better. My sorority pushed me to be a leader and get out of my comfort zone. I heard 100 NO’s during campus try-outs and then suddenly a lot of YES’s. Perseverance was a gift of Auburn. Building confidence in myself was a gift of Auburn. Beautiful friendship was definitely a gift of Auburn.
The HOLE moment. I was sitting outside a wedding after we graduated and I just lost it (do you remember Brooke?). It was the dang HOLE in my heart. I had accomplished so much at Auburn. I’m a pleaser like that – see Dad? See Heavenly Father? See friends? See anyone that might be impressed? I’m doing great things! Anyone accept me? Love me? That is my typical affirmation cycle that is SO hard to break. I was so grief-stricken with the realization that it didn’t matter. Sure – it helped me land a huge job. However, reality was sinking in hard .. the many things I had diligently pursued did not fulfill my heart. That hole could only be filled with God’s love. No boy, no job, no group of friends, no accolade – not one single thing except a personal relationship with Christ would make me feel “affirmed” and “fulfilled” in the way I was wanting. My sister had already figured this out. She was 2 years older and already back in Atlanta. God and North Point Community Church had grabbed a hold of her heart. My cousin Mandi invited me to come to 7:22 Singles Ministry (at that time it was Louie!). I remember sitting beside Mandi and sobbing my eyes out. I internally said, “Yes, Lord, I am here. I am back. You are what I need. The only thing.” I consider that day a very huge day in my life. Although, I would’ve considered myself a Christian since age 5, something dramatic changed in my life on that day. A hole filled. A very personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a decision to live differently. I chose to put my trust in Him for my life. My choices and my ways weren’t quite working out for me.
The together exploration At that point, I had just met Ron at a PR firm and we started exploring this God thing together. It was so much fun to ask questions together. Search churches together. Discuss what we always believed because our parents “said so” vs what we really believed was true. I prayed for Ron’s heart that only God could change. And WHOAH did God show up in that area. That guy who would NOT pray out loud or discuss this topic – ended up being in a small group at Buckhead Church then leading one and now we lead one in Orlando. He said “I’ll never” to all of those. AND! He totally prays out loud in a group.
We got married and embarked on a journey of growing closer to God and learning so much over the last 10 years of marriage. We would both say that being in a small group has been the most critical part to our faith and spiritual growth. Both in our church in Atlanta and now here in Orlando. He leads our family so well.
Microwave your faith If you want to microwave your faith, go on a missions trip. When I left the PR firm, I went to work for Chick-fil-A, Inc. which could be another entire blog post. That company and the people forever impacted the person I am today. Godly role models around every corner. I went with a group twice to Ukraine on a mission trip to teach a leadership model based around servant leadership. That was the first time I experienced walking exactly in the CENTER of God’s will for my life. It was a feeling I’ll never forget. It ironically led to me leaving Chick-fil-A. I want to feel that way forever - directly in the CENTER of God's will for my life. I felt my next step on this path was to be a stay-at-home mom to my kids – so I did just that. After my DREAM job of doing marketing for that brand – I left to be at home with my girls. Cried like a baby. Of course God blessed the decision 10x over. I adore being the role of motherhood. Clearly... said the girl who posts 10x too many Instagram photos.
Now, start a business What? You said stay at home! So, when God nudged me to start this business and launch a product it was so excited and a bit scary. However, I was so sure it was from Him that I couldn’t say NO.
I never planned to have thousands of scripture cards in homes across the country. I never EVER had “write a book” on my life. I have never EVER had “be on the View” on my list. I never had “feed orphans in Africa” on the list. The last two years have been the biggest whirlwhind of my life. The lesson is: you better HOLD ON if you ever FULLY surrender and earnestly say YES! to God. I literally cannot wait to see what happens next.
Do I annoy you on Facebook?
If you just cannot quite believe it. And the number of “holier than thou” or “goodie goodie” facebook status ideas or suggestions are just annoying you. Or, you thought I must have drank some crazy juice or a cult. Here’s the deal people. There is a God. He created you. He created me. The Bible is for real. I cannot debate you on every single part of life. I can only tell you what I have experienced and this is only a fraction. Some stories you wouldn’t even believe. I cannot shut up or stop posting because I am so excited! It’s just unreal when I open my eyes and heart and pray for Him to use me in the lives of other people. It’s NOT ME! I don’t want you to think I’m awesome. I want you to see He is awesome. I just ask you to give Him a shot. Open up a Bible and read it. Commit to 1 or 3 or 5 visits at a church. Be open. Give Him room to work in your life. Pray one time. Call me. Email me. You can tell Him you’re mad and you think Christians are dumb and rude or hypocritical. Some of them are. (Series on Bad Church Experiences here). I am not perfect. I am changed for sure, but I screw up all of the time. I am definitely a different gal than my keg stand days, but I am not better than anybody else. I will continue to take risks like this, because with all of my heart. I believe He is real. And I believe He has a plan for your life too.
My life verse is this. Matthew 5:14-16
Hangs in my office.