Perfect in His Eyes
Courtney Joy Smith was born on February 14, 1997 along with her twin sister Taylor Hope Smith. The girls, although twelve weeks early, were welcomed home joyously by their parents, Troy and Jenny Smith, and their older brother, Jake. Justin was born two years later to complete the Smith family. Both Courtney and Taylor faced many challenges due to their early birth. Born at just twenty-six weeks gestation, Courtney weighed a tiny 1 lb. 10 oz. And Taylor was just 1 lb. 13 oz. Courtney's eye disease is just one of the difficulties the girls have dealt with in their young lives. Retinopathy of Prematurity is an eye disease associated with premature birth. While both girls were at high risk for the disease and developed similar symptoms early on, only Courtney's vision was affected long term. Today, Courtney can detect light in one eye, but has no other usable vision. Despite Courtney's disability, she has grown up and experienced life in many of the same ways as other children. She loves to ride her bike in the yard, swim and shop; and also has chores at home, like tending to her plants and the family's house cat, Furby. Courtney plays with her brothers and sister, and fights with them too. In her house, she is treated just like the rest of the children, and that is what she and her family hope for outside their home. Courtney and her family are big advocates for those with disabilities: they believe where there is a will, there is a way. As soon as she began to speak, Courtney found her love and talent for singing. Courtney's musical debut came when she was just in kindergarten, singing all the reindeer names in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the school Christmas program. Not long after, she wowed people at her second public performance, performing Somewhere Out There for her aunt's wedding. After that, Courtney was hooked. That fall, she went into the studio for the first time to record her debut album, a Christmas CD entitled Christmas Through Courtney's Eyes. Her second CD, a collection of some of Courtney's favorites along with a few original tunes written just for her. Courtney enjoys many activities and stays busy throughout the year. She loves to sing for lots of people and listen to country music. Her favorite country artists are Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, and Sara Evans. She also enjoys her time in the studio with producers Ron and Dave and working with them to make her CD's. Courtney's family is very important to her; she loves spending time with her parents, brothers, sister, grandparents, great-grandma's, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Reading Braille, smelling perfumes, meeting new people, and collecting Care Bears and stuffed frogs and monkeys also make Courtney's list of favorite things to do. Courtney is a remarkable young girl with an amazing outlook on life. At only eight years old, she has learned to look past her disability and live a rich life, touching many others along the way. Through her gift of a beautiful voice, Courtney is teaching others to see the world as she does - through her heart. Written by Mrs. Jessica Irey, Spanish/English Teacher Courtney in the studio We arrived at the studio, where Courtney greeted everyone by name, and they all said their hello's just as enthusiastically. She changed into her dress for the photo shoot they were doing that day for the new CD cover, as her mom adjusted her hair. Courtney had spent the morning at the salon getting ready, and her mom wanted to make sure she looked perfect. The photographer arrived and for thirty minutes Courtney posed for the camera, each smile just as happy and as eager as the last. When the photographer's work was done, it was time for one of Courtney's favorite parts of the day: lunch at McDonald's. We came back to the studio after lunch, (during which Courtney spent most of her time playing with her happy meal toy) and it was time to get down to business. Courtney went into the recording booth with her voice coach, and you could see on her face that she was all about the job at hand. Dave and Ron, her producer and voice coach, recorded and re-recorded her singing, always pushing her to do just a little bit better, and Courtney rose to every challenge. She never once complained about having to sing the same line over and over again; never once asked if she could stop or suggested that something was good enough the way it was. Courtney looked so at ease in the studio. She interacted with Dave and Ron like she'd known them all her life. When they teased her, she teased back. When she got silly straws for her water, they did too. She looked perfectly comfortable there in the recording studio, singing and working to improve her craft. But this wasn't work for her at all, this was fun. I have to admit that I was skeptical when I first heard about an eight-year-old girl spending hours on end in a recording studio. But after one day there, I realized that there is no place this little girl would rather be. Dave on Perfect in His Eye's It has been an enriching experience to get to know Courtney and her family through this amazing medium called music. The words to this song are adapted from a poem by Courtney's mom, Jenny. It is clear that the ominous events surrounding the birth of these twin girls moved this mom and her family to the refuge of their faith. The truth of perfection in God's eyes is an undeniable attribute of the Christian faith. We who are imperfect are made perfect in Christ. Faith in Christ is our only route to this otherwise impossible-to-reach state. Premature birth, blindness, or other challenges or even obvious strengths and talents have little to do with who we really are, especially in God's eyes. He deals in hearts and sees us as we truly are; bankrupt and needy in spirit without Him. One of my favorite lines in this song is 'You may see a broken child....' Though this song is about a specific individual or individuals, this line applies to us all, and so I too, can claim it's liberating truth, 'I am perfect in His eyes!' Sing out, Courtney! Your clear vision of what's important can and will open the eyes of blind people everywhere. Dynamite was written by Ron Parker. Ron is one of Courtney's favorite singers, friends, and role model. When Ron wrote this song, he really knew what he was writing. The song is about a Classy little girl with a sassy kind of attitude. Ron on Dynamite This song came to me one night after Dave and I had been working on the CD. Dave, inadvertently said- 'we should do an album with Courtney of all original songs next time.' I was encouraged- first because he said 'next time' and I really hope we get to do albums with Courtney for a long time to come; and secondly, I thought 'that's what I'm talking about, an original album.' You know how a word gets spoken and it buries itself in you, that can be good and that can be bad. Well, this time it worked for good because that word got stuck in me and wouldn't let go until I sat down and wrote this song. It was so natural because all I had to do was think about Courtney and the rest was too easy. Dynamite does come in small packages- Courtney you are Dynamite!