If you’re looking for an example of the power of positive thinking, take a closer look at Courtney Anderson. You’ll hear it in her voice, you’ll see it in her eyes, but more importantly, you can observe its power in her life — a young lady aglow with goodwill and the will to see good come to others.
In turn, Anderson is enjoying a fulfilling career that helps others and an engagement to a man she adores, thanks in part to her positive personality and resilient spirit to hope for the best. When asked about the source of her optimistic outlook, the 24-year-old Cleveland native said, “I have to say that my positive attitude comes from the Lord. I grew up in church at First Baptist and I developed this faith that everything was going to be OK. I’ve always been ‘future minded.’ Philippians 4:6 is one of my favorite verses. It says don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. Tell God what you need, thank Him for what He’s done and you’ll experience peace.”
That approach to life is also one of the reasons why she is so successful as a Starfish Parent Educator with the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community.
Anderson said her job requires a positive approach because she sees a lot of family hardships which can seem overwhelming to parents at times. In working with parents and children in need, Anderson not only assist families through in-home parent education and networking with medical providers while assisting with family goals to maximize future success — she also brings an outlook that offers hope.
“I try to bring my positivity and energy to families to make them feel better,” she said. “I try to think positive about everything and see the best in every situation. Being involved with parent education, we work with the parents since they are the most influential teacher in their child’s life. I work with prenatal through age 5, and I love what I do.”
Anderson also credits her high school athletics participation with developing her positive mental attitude, saying, “It helped me blossom and brought out certain leadership skills. I played five sports most of my life. I started when I was 5. Mostly basketball and volleyball were my big sports, but I also played soccer and softball and ran track.”
Perhaps the most challenging situation for Anderson to show a positive attitude was in waiting for her “Mr. Right” to come along without compromising her moral standards or lowering her expectations for a marriage mate.
Not seeing any real prospects for her in the Cleveland area after graduating from Walker Valley High School, Anderson left the area to pursue a college education at Middle Tennessee State University. While her academic success was apparent, she felt the prospects of finding a mate who met her standards were few and far between. That would soon change, however, due to a brief encounter with an athletic male who would later become her fiancé — Brant Donlon. Both were playing on the same court.
“It started out with basketball,” she explained. “I got a busted eye. He was there and I had blood all over my face. He was playing and I was more on the sidelines, playing pickup. I went up for a shot and one of the guys came down and elbowed me in the eye! I still have the scar. This is actually my favorite story! Brant was there. I had this bloody face, we’re taking pictures and I’m like, ‘Yeah! Look at my face!’ I love scars. A few months later I graduated and moved back home.”
It just so happened that Brant was also from Cleveland and was home. According to Anderson, she was walking past Lee University when she saw the guy who accidentally elbowed her and Brant playing volleyball. When she recognized them she made a joke, shouting, “‘I’m never going to forget this. I have this scar here!’”
She said, “Brant made a joke that on my wedding day I’m going to have to look in the mirror and see that scar.”
At the time, Brant was the only man who had mentioned her and a “wedding day” in the same sentence. Anderson admits she was experiencing doubts.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not suppose to get married? So I’m just going to go to Africa and work with orphans,’” Anderson confessed. So she started the long process through the International Mission Board, the Journeyman program, to do mission work in Africa.
At the time Anderson said she was working at Buffalo Wild Wings when Brant and one of his friends regulary started coming in and watching football games. Anderson said it was her positive approach to life and in meeting people that made the difference it which way her life was about to head.
“While I was serving I would make a sly joke with him. I joked that he stalked me because he happened to be there most of time when I was working,” Anderson recalled.
The next thing they knew they were talking on Facebook, texting each other, then speaking on the phone.
“Then we had a conversation,” she said. “And from that conversation I remember where we were sitting and what was said. It struck me that he was different. Once we had that conversation it was like — I knew that I was going to marry him after two months.
“I think what drew him to me was me being outgoing. I joke that I had to make the first move. This is really both of our first ‘real’ relationships. We were a lot older than most people when they get serious with someone. We were both 22. He’s six days younger than me, so he calls me a cougar. It was just perfect.”
According to Anderson, from then on everything started falling into place. She said she is amazed at the incredible blessings that have come out of being faithful to her standards and staying positive.
“I almost gave up and I don’t feel worthy for things to feel this easy — for me to meet him, to get engaged, to save our money, to be looking at a house to buy together. My friends told me I was going to have to lower my standards. They said there was no way a guy is going to meet all of my standards. A lot of that was my religious background and my parents were very open about having standards.”
Instead of lowering her standards, Anderson took her life in a different direction by taking some initiative and staying positive. She and Brant started dating in October 2012, got engaged in August 2013, and are set to marry in June.
“Brant made the joke that on my wedding day I’m going to have to look in the mirror and see that scar,” Anderson said. “Now, the irony is that on my wedding day he is going to be looking at my scar. It’s pretty crazy. He went to Bradley Central and I went to Walker Valley. So there’s probably a hundred times we were in the gym together and didn’t know each other. Who’d have thought I would meet the right guy in Cleveland?”
Anderson said there is a message she would like to share about her life experience that could benefit others, especially young females trying to remain chaste in an uninhibited world.
“I wish I could tell every girl in high school don’t lower yourself. Don’t go to sleep with all of these guys. Save it. Save it. It is the most incredible thing to find a man who did that too. In this day and age it’s almost impossible. But they’re out there.
“Make some standards. Think ahead. So many people live in the moment. What do you want to be when you’re 30? Do you want to be a wife and mom? Do you want to be a career woman? Think about what you’re doing now, and what can ruin that. I was always future-minded and that saved me from a lot. I wish more young girls could be.”
Now that she has met the man of her dreams and is enjoying a job that fulfills her, the question of whether or not Anderson will be happy and successful is not in doubt — of that, she said she’s positive.