Posted on May 21, 2014
Towards the end of last year I did a short feature on Anna Taylor..the fashion genius who’s vision is to use her creative abilities and experience in the fashion industry to eradicate poverty among women in Nairobi, Kenya. I was fascinated by her ingenuity of helping women make a living…at the same time building her own career in fashion. You can read more on Anna’s inspiring story here. So here I am again ready to share the life of yet another passionate soul who’s story bears a striking similarity like that of Anna. She’s Courtney Watson. In very few words, Courtney describes herself as a world traveler, a theology student, gym rat, soccer player, slurpee lover, and in all she does…she strives to be a Proverbs 31 woman. She’s bold enough to say that Jesus Christ is her everything. She loves goofing off with friends, being active and enjoying life! Make her laugh and she will probably love you forever…maybe. While Anna Taylor is using her passion in fashion to make a difference in the world, Courtney, on the other hand, has initiated a project that seeks to make a difference too. Lets dive in and find out what Courtney has been up to, shall we?
So Courtney, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and how was your childhood life like? Any siblings?
I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and moved to North Carolina when I was 4. So you could say for the most part I grew up in NC, but really I grew up in multiple states. My father worked for a ministry that required my family to travel the US 6 months out of the year, hosting kids camps and guest speaking at many different church conferences. From airports to road trips to different hotel rooms every week, I built an incredible relationship with my parents and older brother, Grant, and I wouldn’t trade those trips or years for anything in the world. Just hit my 20s! Full time nanny, part time receptionist at church, and theology student! I like to think that I am just one of those people that thoroughly enjoys life. I love to be active and outside as much as possible. I like to play just about any sport, rock climb, ski, ice skate, hike, compete in sprint triathlons and mud runs, and love the lake…especially jet skis and tubing! Constantly fighting the travel bug and always wanting to get out and explore new countries and cultures. My schedule never seems to slow down but I have decided to love every minute of every day and choose joy no matter what I may face! I love my life, and laugh my way through it. And I think that kids are absolutely hilarious.
For many kids, going to school is the most preferred choice. But for you, you were home schooled. How was it for you?
I enjoyed being home schooled! Since my family traveled so much I wasn’t given a choice at first. When I reached high school I had the option of going to public school but never took interest. Home schooling allowed me to have a super flex schedule with work and sports and I just couldn’t see myself giving up that freedom to sit in a classroom 8 hours a day.
Did you feel like you missed out on anything?
Well…I did always want a yearbook…but I got over that. Honestly though, I know I did miss out on some things, but I also was able to do a lot with being home schooled. The city I live in has sports leagues for home schoolers that play other local high schools. So I was able to be involved in sports and activities still…and that was all I really cared about.
You are now currently studying theology at Impact University-Clemmons. What motivated you to choose this course?
I graduated high school a year early so instead of going straight into college I took a year off to travel! Except I must have liked school more than I thought I did, or maybe just Jesus, because I decided to start the spring semester at Impact. I knew that whatever I did I wanted to build a deeper relationship with Christ. And from what I heard from students at Impact, it was a perfect place to be. I majored in theology and actually just finished my final classes and exams the beginning of February. So I’m thrilled to have an official (associates) degree!
And how do you manage to balance your life as a student…considering you are also an Education consultant and a Director of Communications at Agape Faith Church
There are definitely some days that I know the only way I will get through and still be a human being that people would want to be around is through prayer. I always make sure to start my days off spending some time just talking with God. (And constantly reminding myself of Galatians 5:22-23!)
No matter how busy I get, I think it’s important to make time to do something I enjoy. Even if it’s the hour I have between jobs where I grab a coffee and park my car to watch the sunrise, or swing by the track for a morning run while listening to Pastor Judah Smith. Those times have become a special treat during the week and give me a chance to have a mini break from the craziness of the day. It’s nice to stay busy and work hard, but you’ve gotta make sure to throw in some fun!
Now let’s move to your passion for Kenya. You are a widely traveled person, having toured places like London, Switzerland, Germany etc. But kindly tell us more about this profound love for Kenya. Where did it all start?
Well, I could say it all started the first time I watched the Lion King, because I’ve always thought Africa was captivating…but Disney just doesn’t do it justice. The first morning I woke up in Budalangi and heard the children playing outside my window, I was a goner. I fell in love with Kenya unlike any other country I’ve had the privilege to visit. Not just the land, which is beautiful, but I fell in love with the people. Never been so far away from “home” and yet still felt like I was right at home. And I absolutely love that they kiss on both sides of the cheek when they greet people!
You have managed to combine your passion for Kenya and also your immense love for soccer and came up with The Kicks for Kenya Project. Tell us how all this started.
It all started at a lunch with my parents one day. My dad was sharing some stories of his past experiences in Kenya and how he saw some children from the orphanage, New Hope Christian Academy, playing soccer…shoeless…in the dirt. I remember sitting there thinking, “I can’t let this continue to happen. There must be something I can do.” It was right then that God gave me the idea for Kicks for Kenya and the passion to help see it through. The rest of the meal I brainstormed with my parents different ways that we could start collecting cleats and how to get them there. I knew that whatever we did, I wanted to bring as many bags as possible, stuffed to the brim, with soccer cleats to Kenya.
What did you hope to achieve by spearheading this project? And what is your strategy to ensure its continuity and growth?
My goal was to get a pair of boots for every child in New Hope. My first trip in 2009 I was able to collect over 100 pairs and every child got a perfect fit! My next trip in 2010 I brought more cleats and upped up the collecting to shin guards, jerseys, socks, and soccer balls. Right now my strategy is to just get back to Kenya! I’ve had a few trips planned over the past 3 years that I was unable to see happen. When its God’s timing for me to return I will start the collecting all over again! I want to continue to bring more boots and as much soccer and sports gear that I can. In order to do that I will need to start reaching out to bigger organizations and schools in the area and sharing about the project on social media. The more people that know, the more people can help! And the more help, the more geared up children in Africa. (:
Are there any challenges you have faced while working on this project and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge would have to be collecting the cleats…which is the whole thing! I started the project about 6 months before the trip in 2009. After 4 months of posting up flyers & posters, placing collection boxes in sports stores around town, e-mailing school soccer directors, and spreading word through friends and teammates, I had only collected about a fourth of what I needed. I just figured that more people would have old cleats that they would be happy to give away. So it was hard not to become discouraged with such a low outcome. One night I was laying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking that I had completely failed. With only around 20 cleats collected I knew that wouldn’t be enough. I remember asking God what I needed to do and He simply said to trust Him.
No new idea, no big plan…nothing, just trust in Him. And really, that was all I could do then. I had reached out to so many people and done my part, now I just needed to put my faith into it and trust that God would help me see my harvest. I woke up the next morning feeling so refreshed and at peace. And it was within that week that I received two donations that put me just under the 100 mark. One of them was from a high school football team in another state that I had never even heard of! Someone had told their coach about it and one afternoon I walked out onto the front porch with boxes of cleats that their teammates shipped to me! I’ve learned that when God places a desire or a dream like that in my heart, if I do all I can in the natural, and trust God to do the rest…He always shows up in big, BIG ways (: Philippians 4:13!
What if someone would be interested in joining hands with you on this project, what do they need to do?
That would be incredible! All they would have to do is contact me via Facebook (: As of right now everything has been on hold since I haven’t been able to make a trip out to Kenya in the past few years. The big thing is getting the word out, making connections and contacting other organizations that would be willing to participate.
10. What are your future aspirations as a person? Where do you see yourself say in the next 5-10 years?
My ultimate dream is to travel around the world. I would love to jump from country to country building Christian sports camps for children to learn sports in a safe and friendly environment while also giving them the teaching to grow a relationship with Christ. As for the next 5-10 years, I don’t know exactly where I see myself, could be anywhere. Wherever God takes me, I know I’ll be happy. And I hope to be a wife and have a family of my own one day. (:
11. Any role models? And why do you look up to them?
That would have to be my parents. Hands down. Especially my mom. I aspire to be just like her. She is one of the strongest women I know mentally, spiritually, emotionally and in any other way possible. She always has wisdom to give me, and we can never go long without a good silent, tear dropping, laughter. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and wouldn’t trade her for any other mom in the world.
12. If you would be the most powerful woman on planet earth, what would you do with such influence?
Oh boy, there is so much that I would want to do! And this is going to sound so cliché, but honestly, my number one desire would be to just show people the love of Christ. And that being in love with Him is the absolute BEST thing in the world. Yes, I would love to build sports camps and orphanages all over the world, host conferences for young men & women on purity, feed every hungry belly, write books that would shake my generation and those after…I would want to do just about everything I could. But in the end, I wouldn’t want to be remembered for a book I wrote, an organization I started, or how many soccer balls I gave away. I want to be remembered as a woman who is madly, passionately, and relentlessly in love with God in every thought, word, and action I do.
13. As we begin to close, is there any Courtney-Life-Philosophy you would love to share?
I would just encourage you to choose joy. In e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And be thankful for everything. Not just when you “feel” like it, because joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. James says to count it ALL joy (James 1:2-4). I know it’s not the easiest, but you’ll definitely feel better, and others around you will too! And really, we are so, so blessed.
*My first question on the quick six section is always the dating question. Single or Taken? Do you think there’s a right time to date and if so when?
Happily taken…for the first time in 20 years! And I met him at one of my favorite places to be, the soccer field! In my early teens I put a lot of thought into how my life would be “dating” wise. I wanted to protect my heart from some of the unnecessary hurt that I saw too many of my friends go through at such young ages. When I was 14 I made a commitment not to date for 5 years, so during that time I could focus on my relationship with Christ. As far as a right time to date I’d say whenever you feel you’re ready to get married. To me, dating is a step towards marriage. So unless you’re considering that with someone, just create a great friendship. Relationships aren’t something to take lightly and neither is your heart! (Proverbs 4:23) For me, I can honestly say that other than giving my life to Christ, deciding to wait has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have a full, happy heart, and I’m a happy girl. <3
*So apparently you love playing soccer. What position do you play? Are you playing for any team?
Soccer is one of the best things ever. Shoooooo man, I love me some soccer. I started off on defense and moved my way into outside mid…which meant I had to learn to love running too. I started playing my sophomore year in high school and soooo wish I had started sooner. My first season of playing I joined a rec team. We only had games on the weekend and that wasn’t enough soccer for me so that’s when I joined the city home school league. On top of playing for those two teams I also joined a traveling club team. That’s when my life really started to revolve around soccer. I now play for an adult co-ed league for the WSASL. Unfortunately, that’s all I can squeeze in my schedule at the moment. Still in love with every minute of it!
*Do you have any phobias?
Puke. I can’t do puke at all.
*Kenya just turned 50 years old. Any special message you’d love to share?
Keep being beautiful and expect major blessing coming to your land!
*Considering your love for traveling, what part of the world are you dying to go to?
I would love to visit Greece or New Zealand. So beautiful!
*What’s your most embarrassing moment? (In details please ^_^)
Haha, don’t know that I have an official “Most” embarrassing moment but I have a recent one that cracked me up!I was babysitting 3 kids for the first time for a family that goes to my church. We were ending off the night with an intense game of hide-and-seek when the parents walked in the door… and guess where I was…yep, squished flat out between the wall and the couch. The dad walked into the living room as I slowly inch wormed my way out from behind the couch. Laughed about that the whole drive home. Now every time I see them at church they never let me live it down. Gotta go all out when playing hide-and-seek!
Well, If Courtney’s story is anything to go by, its never too late to engage your God-given passions and use them to make a difference wherever you are..just like she has so well done. And while you are at it, remember to always be thankful and choose joy! And as for you Courtney, keep the Kicks for Kenya dream alive and may God bless you in your future endeavors! Cheers!