My first week at CCBC!

Yesterday marked one full week being a student here at CCBC. I said “goodbye” to my family until Christmas, and moved into my dorm at Calvary Chapel Bible College! Even since last Monday, I’ve learned so much and have grown by huge leaps and bounds. I am so expectant to see how God changes and stretches me over these next couple of months!

My week was jam packed full of orientation sessions, picking and registering for classes (which was so hard, I wanted to take them all! 🙂 ), getting introduced to my “M1” (my on campus Practical Christian Ministry opportunity), and on Thursday, starting classes!

It’s been so wonderful getting to know everyone on campus, and getting to know THE campus. It’s even more beautiful in real life than in pictures. It is serene and stunning.. a sliver of Heaven on earth!

I have been blessed with 5 amazing roommates (plus a honorary one 🙂 ) and many great friends around campus! Having 6 girls in one room can be a challenge, but by the grace of God, can be a wonderful thing. It’s a built in network of people to encourage and sharpen you!

So far, my classes have been amazing! The course offerings here are so exciting, I wish I could take them all. I’m taking Bible Study Methods, College Skills (which is a first semester requirement at CCBC), Job, John, Romans and Christian Ethics. We also have mandatory Chapels throughout the week which are such a huge blessing. 

All students serve in their respective “M1” placement for 7 hours each week. We also then has a separate time with a practical class on how to use your M1 as a service opportunity, and to actually live out Colossians 3:23. I was blessed enough to get housekeeping, which is fantastic!

Between my ministry service opportunity area, classes and homework, and fellowshipping with people around campus, my time fills up really fast! But in the best way. 🙂 I am so enjoying the people here, the new culture. People here at CCBC are so warm and welcoming!! And western USA is much different than what I am used to, but in a good way. I’m loving all these experiences!

My favorite part of my requirements as a student here has got to be Chapel. They are filled with amazing worship, prayer and a sweet time in the Word. It’s so refreshing to be able to constantly worship with fellow students. The lecture part of the chapels are also so jam packed with truth that it’s even difficult to keep up with notes!

I am so thankful to be here. I know it’s exactly where God had me for this season of my life, and I’m embracing it for all it’s worth.


We made it!

Thursday morning we left Albuquerque, NM and drove until we finally reached our destination of Costa Mesa, California that night! After driving through it all, New Mexico is probably my favorite state we’ve seen thus far. So breathtaking. Arizona was lovely with its purple mountains and abundance of cacti, but by then, I was really just ready to get to California (and out of the van).

One thing I didn’t realize about California was how mountainous it is…You look to the left, and all you see are mountains. You look to the right, and all you see is the beach and the Pacific Ocean. It’s breathtaking. It’s also highly populated with burger joints and donut shops. (both of which are incredibly delicious. Best burgers and donuts I’ve ever had.) There also are more churches than you’d expect. It’s a bit of a Bible belt over here.

Adjusting to the new time zone has been rough… EST is 3 hours later than what it is over here. I can now get up at 6am and be quite happy and comfortable with it, but I am quite confused as to what day/time it is. Right now it feels like it should be supper time (And back home, it is.) But it actually is just 2:45 in the afternoon. I have no idea how people who constantly travel through different time zones live.

Tomorrow morning we are planning on going to two churches (an hour apart, cause we’re crazy like that 🙂 ), then in the evening, we’re heading down to Murrieta, which is where I will be attending Bible school. I move in Monday morning, and my classes begin on Thursday! I can hardly wait to begin that journey.


What we’ve been listening to since we got to California has been a mashup of Switchfoot and Esterlyn. (Both coincidentally have Calvary Chapel connections, which is also super cool.)

From Switchfoot, we’ve been especially loving Saltwater Heart… It pretty well sums up how it feels to be in California.

From Esterlyn, we’ve been loving their song Holy, and their entire “Woven” album. Their songs are well done, and solidly based in scripture.

I also personally have been enjoying Brooke Fraser’s Jack Kerouac (great for any long road trip… I absolutely adore Brooke, and find Jack Kerouac and his story fascinating, so it’s quite a perfect combination of the two.), Shawn McDonald’s World’s Apart, and William Fitzsimmon’s Lions.

Roadtrip Day 3

Today we trekked through the majority of Oklahoma, North Texas, and now have stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Texas is gorgeous… Wide open fields, ranches with real live cowboys, and the smell of freedom in the air. We saw so many of the famous Texas stereotypes, it was fantastic. The saying “everything is bigger in Texas” is true… Let me tell you that much. While in Texas, we stopped in at one of the places that they modeled the “Cars” movie after and snapped some pics. (I thought Andrew nearly was going to die of elation… 🙂 )

Tonight we stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico. New Mexico is again, more western than where we’ve been… It appears much more western than Texas (with its lovely southern overtones) is. The threads of both Hispanic and Native culture are quite prevalent, hugely in the architecture. The buildings here are unique, and quite stunning.

The landscape here is also beyond breathtaking… Quite possibly the most breathtaking of all the states we’ve been through on this trip so far. As far as the eye can see, there is red clay contrasted with the brilliant blue sky, which is filled with billowy white clouds. You can even see the purple mountains in the distance…. And for the leg of our journey coming right into ABQ (as locals call it.. with a mouthful of a name like Albuquerque, I don’t blame them) we drove right through mountains. So spectacular!

Tonight as part of our New Mexico pit stop, we headed out to Calvary ABQ and worshiped with the body of believers there. The service was amazing. The worship was vibrant, and the preaching was solid!


On this leg of the journey, it’s really been hitting me exactly WHY we’re on this road trip, and where I will be this time next week. I will be at my new “home.” I’m not going back with my family. A range of emotions are flooding over me… Stress, excitement, nerves, and even feeling altogether overwhelmed. I’ve never been this far from my entire family before for longer than a few weeks at a time.. (even through those times, I was staying with my dear Grandma in North Carolina.) If I’m honest, there are a lot of things I am anxious about… But at the same time, I am overcome with joy. I have prayed about and hoped for this experience for years… and here I am. Just days away from being at CCBC. And, not only do I get to attend my dream school that happens to also be on the most beautiful campus (in California!), God provided the opportunity for my whole family to travel across “America the beautiful” with my family. When I think of God’s faithfulness and hand in my life, I’m overwhelmed to the point of tears… He is so prevalent in my life, and I’m excited to have time set aside to deliberately focus on my walk with the Lord.


Today’s tunes have been Phil Wickham’s album The Ascension... This album released a few months ago, and is one of our very favorites as a family. (Phil Wickham is one of my very favorite musicians… Definitely my favorite worship leader.) My favorite of his songs on this album are Wonderful and Thirst.

I also have listened a fair bit to Hozier’s “Like Real People Do.” If I’m honest, I haven’t a clue who that group (or singer) is. Kate and I heard that song on So You Think You Can Dance a few weeks back, and have been pretty smitten with it ever since. (This is a case of a song that makes me wonder how people can question the inspiration of a Creator.. But I’ll save that soapbox rant for another day. 🙂 )

Roadtrip Day 2

This morning we loaded up, said good bye to dear old Indiana, and headed to the great southwest. Today we drove through part of Illinois, the entire length of the state of Missouri, and now we’re in Oklahoma where we’ve stopped for the night.
While in Illinois, we stopped at a renowned backwoods bakery entitled “Blue Springs Café.” The thing they’re famous (and have been featured on television!) for, are their “Foot Hi Pies” ….when they say “foot hi pies,” they MEAN it. I don’t think I’ve seen a pie so huge in my life. The entire thing was absolutely delicious, and this was undeniably the best part of the trip so far for Dad. (surprise surprise 🙂 )
For lunch, we stopped in St. Louis. There were some raw emotions based on all of the upsetting news coming out of the outlying suburb of Ferguson, but it was definitely special to stop there and be able to pray for peace, justice, and the healing of Jesus Christ for the people of STL. It also happens to be a stunning city.,. The arch is even more spectacular than I even imagined!
As we trekked through Missouri, the land grew a bit wilder, and the people started looking a bit more like westerners… Then, we came upon Tulsa… a city unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is almost completely flat. It actually looks and feels the Western USA. So exciting!
Tomorrow, we’re New Mexico bound. (which requires another 10 hour day of driving.)
What I’ve been listening to today: Social Club (one of my very favorite rap groups) released their song Benjamin Trillington last night, so I had that on repeat for hours. No joke. It is a fantastic song. I love being able to listen to Social Club as they progress and grow in their music and sound!
I also listened through the majority of Jesus Freak Hideout’s compilation of 50 songs…. (Songs We’ve Been Trying to Tell You About // And Some We Haven’t) from a variety of great artists – both well known and obscure. There’s a wonderful mix of genres and artists on this compilation…. definitely some real gems! I’d highly encourage checking it out.

Goodbyes // roadtrip Day 1

Well, today is the day that we began our road trip out west! So this morning, I said goodbye to Elmira and Ontario, and “hello” to America again!

On this leg of our journey, we drove through Michigan, Ohio (my favorite of the 50 states 😉 ) and have stopped for the night in Indianapolis, Indiana… the “crossroads of America.”

During our drive, I had much time to think and reflect.,. This weekend has been filled with laundry, packing, visiting, goodbyes and farewells. It has truly made me realize what beautiful people I have in my life, and how faithful God has been to me during the course of my 19 years.

A little over four years ago, my family was called to come to, and minster to our church – Emmanuel in Elmira, Ontario. When I came to the small town of Elmira, I was just 15. Since then, by God’s grace, I’ve grown up so much (even though I know I have so far to go!) and learned tons. God is so good, and has been so faithful to me in my life.

I recently read Barnabas Piper’s book on being a PK and have also been reflecting on the points that he articulated, especially since I’m walking into a new chapter of my life where I won’t have the same expectations and responsibilities that I do have at my home church… As Barnabas so clearly points out, you do tend to live under a bit more of a “spotlight,” but that’s not an entirely bad thing. Yes, I’ve encountered “rough patches” as a PK, but wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m the young woman I am today because of my time as a PK.

This weekend, SO SHOWERED with love as I’ve been getting ready to leave and make this transition. It’s been quite humbling in fact. I love these people, and in turn, I know that I am also loved. You can be a PK and have a wonderful experience. Church people can be absolutely wonderful, and as a PK at Emmanuel, I have had the blessing of witnessing that first hand.


As for what’s been keeping me busy as we drive:

Christon Gray’s “School of Roses.” I ADORE Christon Gray’s music. Seriously. He sings, he raps, he loves God and uses his music as a ministry. You can’t go wrong! He is in my top 5 favorite artists of all time (and with my music collection, is a big deal.) My favorites of his these days have been “Vanish” and “Wanna” but there’s not a single song of his that I don’t love.

A blog post I’ve been loving for today, is one from the Desiring God blog… about using your mouth as a fountain of life. This is one of my favorite concepts, and was a greatly inspiring read!


ps: I’ll be keeping my twitter and instagram (both in the sidebar!) updated regularly, and we’re using the hashtag #courlasroadtrip2014, so look it up, and keep up with our journey! 🙂

18 d a y s

In 18 days, I gather up my belongings and will begin my trek to Bible college. My family is driving me there… enjoying some family time and exploring many beautiful states as we go.

Now in my typical nomadic-adventurous-crazy style, this particular college – Calvary Chapel Bible College – isn’t just a few hours away where I’ll be remotely close to home and can be home on weekends. My school happens to be in Murrieta Hot Springs, California.  36 hours, 3 timezones, and 2,500 miles from my family. Growing up between many states and also Ontario (where I live currently) moving isn’t something I bat an eye at. In fact, I love the feel of somewhere new. This move is one that takes me far away from my family, who I adore. I also leave behind many members of my church family who I also love. Because of those two things, this transition is somewhat bittersweet. (I mean, I’m also leaving my cat which I’m super sad about, but I didn’t think that was on the same level as leaving my sister… so I’m just mentioning it now in passing.)

I’ve had this school on my heart for years, and this is indeed where God opened doors for me. I’m taking a 2 year program studying theology, so I’ll be a student of CCBC for 4 semesters.

I can’t wait to learn and grow in the Lord and His truths. I’m so blessed and excited to have an opportunity to take 2 years of my life devoted to studying the Bible, serving in ministry, and growing in my faith. I’m also excited to go soak up a new culture. Cali is very different than anywhere I’ve ever lived… climate, people, way of life, topography even. But I’m expectant as to what God’s going to do in my life over these next few months.


If you want to find out more about the school and see where I’ll be, check out their website!


JJ Heller

This is the third week of May – therefore marks three weeks since I’ve disposed of my secular music to listen to more Jesus music and keep my eyes on Him, not on the world. Thus far, it’s been beautiful. I exhort you to do the same! God calls us to fix our minds and hearts on Him. Making proper music choices is a fantastic way to do that!


I decided that it was time to blog about a female artist , but couldn’t figure out who… So I sat and thought, and thought, and thought some more until BAM. It hit me.


The lady of the week is JJ Heller. Her music is insanely lovely, and her voice is sweet. I personally adore coffee shop music, and if a Christian coffee house playlist was a thing, JJ’s music would be at the top of the list.

I follow her on twitter and IG, and she’s one of  my favourite follows!


She just released a new album named “I Dream of You. ” Right now she’s giving away two songs from it for free on noisetrade. (or to make life easier for everyone, you can find it right here.)


Her music reflects her love for Jesus, and is overall worth a listen.


“Social Club is the Best”

Okay, so this weekend I’ve been doing a media fast, but I’m here now writing to keep up my end of the “blog about an awesome, out of the box (Christian) artist each weekend thing”. So, here it is.

Last week I covered Josh Garrels, who is much more of a folky (kind of hipster) artist. This week, I’m going to write about Social Club – who is very much a rap group… But not your typical rap group.
I found them about a year ago sometime after the release of their album “Misfits.” These guys are based out of Miami, Florida and have both been doing music for awhile, but now “MartyMar” and Fern are together, rapping and making music. And it’s fantastic.

Their music is quirky, and very different than your average “Christian rap” sterotype. These guys are hilarious – and show it in their music. They also both love Jesus an awful lot, and have had their lives completely changed by God, which is always an encouraging testimony.

A few weeks back they released their 10 track album – Misfits 2. All the songs on that album are pure gold, but the ones that are really sticking with people (based off of what I see on twitter) are Awkward 2, Coogi Sweater & Burn the Bridge. And hey, Cops is pretty good too.
(also, a slight side bar, but example of who Social Club is: after my post on my “secular media” fast, I somehow was picked to be given a copy of Misfits 2 which was such a timely blessing. Plus, gifted music is always precious.)

So, follow them on twitter & instagram, and check them out on youtube.

As their tagline goes, “Social Club is the best.” 🙂


Pilot Me

It’s May 2nd, so in keeping with my last post, I am indeed taking part in my secular media fast. So far, so good. I’m excited to see what God does in this next month!

Each weekend in May, I’m going to blog about and “feature” a unique Christian artist on my blog.

I feel as if people have problems listening to Christian music because it’s “cheesy” or considered lower quality…. Well I’m here to tell you that it is NOT cheesy or lower quality. In fact, I strongly believe that it in a lot of ways has more artistry than secular music. {Plus it’s anointed, which means it’s automatically better.}


The artist for this weekend, is Josh Garrels. Ironically enough, I heard about his music from my madly hip Mama (she’s always giving me new artists to listen to. Hehe.) at first I didn’t like his music one bit, and thought it was too “interesting.” Well, that didn’t mean my Mama didn’t stop playing it that afternoon. An hour later, I was putting his complete discography on my phone.

Josh Garrels is from Indiana originally (yay for some midwestern pride!), but currently lives in Hipster Haven aka Portland, Oregon. He does all his own stuff, and his music is a mashup between many styles… Predominately folk, with a bit of rap and some jazzy stuff thrown into the mix.

He is a strong believer, which is evident by his lyrics. In his songs he talks about following Christ, God’s creation, everyday life, and also sings scripture in many of his songs.

It’s a beautiful thing.



This video is one of my favourite things on the internet… So beautiful and refreshing. If you like what you’re hearing, you can also check out my Josh Garrels grooveshark playlist and enjoy some more of his music.


{ps….  incase you were wondering, my blog is ironically named “shelter from the storms” from one of Josh Garrels’ songs – White Owl. It’s also worth a listen. 🙂 }

May Media Fast 2k14

I don’t know about you, but one of – if not my biggest downfall in my spiritual walk is music. The majority of the battle is in our minds… And it really does matter what music we fill our minds with.


There is really nothing more in this world I love more than music… And I love all kinds of music. Classical, jazz, rap, folk, R&B, rock…. You name it, and I most likely love it. I listen to music pretty much from the time I wake up, to the time I go to sleep at night. Almost to a fault.

Over this last while I have been trying quite hard to intentionally walk closer with the Lord. Every day is a new day, and His mercies are new every morning, but each day marks a new day with new mercies, but on the flipside, it also means there is a new canvas to be filled struggle and sin.


But it’s the most interesting thing, because the more I fill my head with a nonstop “IV drip” of music that isn’t edifying (okay, secular) I can feel my heart wander. My tongue becomes harsher and sharper, my thoughts become darker and less joy-filled, the “loneliness” begins to creep in, and my desire to study and be immersed in God’s Word diminishes.

Yes, my favourite John Mayer song can always bring that momentary feeling of happiness and familiar comfort, but one song becomes another, and another, until the bold intensity of Andy Mineo, or the brightness of Phil Wickham’s music is nothing more than a distant memory.


Yet on the contrary, whenever I immerse myself in music such as worship and other music that is blatantly God glorifying, my entire worldview and thinking shifts.


So. With all this said, I would like to propose a challenge for the month of May to you, my twitter followers and readers.

For the month of May, I personally am choosing to listen to only “sacred” music. I also am going to limit my netflix and movie intake… I too often spend time watching TV when I could be spending precious time with Jesus.

In May, I am going to intentionally set my mind on Christ, and strive to become more like Him… And I’d like to invite you on this journey.

Starting May 1st, I will go on a 31 Day (Secular) Media fast with the goal to grow closer to God and through that keep a more intentionally keep a more disciplined mind and heart.

Who’s with me?