Confident

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. 

Confidence. It is something that all of us want and desire. A topic we discuss often in our modern day society. It’s also pretty much the theme of my blog’s tagline—”striving to live confidently in Christ”. But what does it mean to truly be confident—and what does it mean to live confidently in Christ?

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I wrote this same post almost a week ago, but later, felt that I needed to take a different approach with it. Because while I spoke the truth and said it in a way that sounded pretty good and ‘Christian-blog-esque‘, I didn’t tell you a whole lot about my own battle, and my own journey with confidence. And after talking with a group of friends this week, and really getting real about what we were dealing with, it occurred to me that sometimes, what we need to hear most are people’s stories. We need to know that we are not alone in our struggles—and that they’re not all that unique. That other people have dealt with the same things we have, and that others are fighting the same battles that we are. 

You see, the truth is, even though I’m twenty-one years old, and even though I’ve been a Christian for over half of my lifetime, I still sometimes struggle with confidence. I still sometimes get insecure. I still have my moments. I still feel inadequate sometimes. And one of my biggest struggles in confidence is my tendency towards quietness.

I’ve heard people say before that I can sometimes come off as ‘stoic’ in group settings. Because I’m quiet, people don’t always realize that underneath the ‘stoic-ness’, I really do desire to connect on a deeper level with those around me. I just don’t always know how. I get stuck inside of my head. I try to make a good impression. I wrack my brain with conversation topics that I think will help me grow closer to the people around me. And, in the end I find myself spinning my wheels so hard that I sabotage myself from being able to do the one thing that I am trying to do to begin with—and forget that the only opinion that truly matters in the end is what Jesus thinks of me. 

I think if we’re honest, a lot of us can relate to this struggle in some way, shape, or form. Maybe you’re insecure about your intelligence, so you hesitate to answer questions in class—even when know you know the answer. Or maybe you’re insecure about your appearance, and feel too embarrassed to hold your held high as you walk down the hallways of your high school. Or maybe you struggle with confidence in something else. Regardless of the specifics, the root is still the same. We have forgotten who we are. And more importantly, we have forgotten whose we are.

Contrary to popular opinion, self confidence never begins with self. It begins with something greater—something outside of ourselves that can never be changed and never be shaken. Self confidence starts with God confidence, and who He has said that we are in His Word.

When we feel inadequate, we can remember the words of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV). When we feel worthless we can remember what God says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV). When we feel weak, we can think back to Deuteronomy 31:6 , “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”’ (NIV).

When we remember who we are in Christ, the lies of the enemy and this world start to lose hold on us—and we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. Beautiful. Capable. Strong. Courageous. Worthy. Loved. And when we remember these words and begin to speak them over ourselves, we will find that God created us exactly the way that He did for a purpose and a plan that only we can accomplish through Him and for His glory.

This is what I believe it means to live confidently in Christ. To wake up every day knowing and remembering that we are fearfully and wonderfully created by a God who loves us and knows us intricately. To recognize that He has given us gifts and abilities to impact the world and bring Him glory. To recognize the lies of the enemy and to remember that we have the fingerprints of our Creator within us. To live in full realization of God’s extravagant love and share this love with every single person that we encounter.

This week I want to challenge you to walk in confidence—carrying with you the knowledge that God loves you. I want to challenge you to see yourself through His eyes, and not your own. I want to challenge you to live confidently in Christ.

Loving God.

Loving people.

And, loving yourself by seeing yourself through our Father’s eyes.

Do you wish you had more confidence in what God is calling you to do? This post shares why we can be confident in Christ and use the abilities and gifts God has given us with assurance and boldness.

“For God will never give you the spirit of fear,[a] but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (TPT).  

How about you? Have you ever struggled with insecurity? If so, how did God teach you (or how is He teaching you) to have confidence in Him? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

All This Time – My Testimony

Hey guys,

So lately, I’ve been praying and I’ve been feeling extremely led to do a video blog about my testimony. How I became a Christian. My walk with God. My journey through college. And God’s faithfulness in the midst of it all.

Thus, posted a video below about my testimony.

Hopefully it encourages somebody!

 

Poetry (Part Two)

Hey guys,

As a writer I am firm believer that words, thoughts, and ideas can be expressed in a variety of ways, ranging from blog posts, to stories, to poetry, and since I got such an incredible response on my last poetry post, I have decided to do another one!

I wrote about a couple of different themes that God has been speaking to me about and that I thought might be relevant to some of you all. Hopefully they inspire you today!

One In Ninety-Nine 

You say that you reach down from Heaven 

For the prodigal in the swine

You tell us that You’re the good shepherd

Who chases the one in the ninety-nine 

But what about the one left standing

Here at the end of the line? 

 

Surrounded by rags and by riches

Trying to reach far above

Trying to offer something

Unaware they are already loved? 

 

The one who is weary and battered 

Spinning her wheels so hard

The one who is worn out and exhausted

Needing rest in the Father’s arms

 

He whispers to her “My Child

You have always been cherished and loved

I thought of you on the cross

When I came down from Heaven above 

 

You have never needed to earn it 

Chasing after perfection so hard

Even though you don’t deserve it 

You have always been all that I want” 

 

Yes, I am the one in the many 

The lost sheep who wandered alone

The one running out from the pasture

Trying to do it alone 

 

Yes, we are all that lost sheep 

Until we are finally home

 

Worship 

Holy hands lifted high 

Hearts of God’s people touch the sky

In the house of God we may find

A glimpse of Heaven in our eyes 

 

But even alone in our rooms

When we are the only ones 

We are never separated from His presence

We are never separated from His Son 

 

He is with us in the car ride

When we turn up the radio loud

When we run through our days 

At high speed pace

Yes, God’s presence still abounds 

 

When it’s late at work and you want to go home

He is still with you 

And Heaven knows

When you’re talking to your friend on the phone 

Letting her know that she’s not alone 

 

When you’re weary in all of the madness

Of school and life’s daily tasks 

You can still rest in God’s presence

You still find rest in Him at last 

 

Yes, God is with us in all these times 

In the seasons of day and night 

He is our constant, our Holy Light

When all is wrong 

And when all is right 

 

So we can find peace and joy 

In knowing this truth truth abounds 

In the quiet and every day places

God’s presence is still clearly found

 

Reflection 

We are the lights

A billion stars 

Soaring, shining from where we are

We are the moon that reflects the sun

To shine His glory to everyone

 

We are the smallest leaves upon a tree 

Yet, still He sees and loves you and me

We are the acorns on a warm summer day 

Yet, still He says we are wonderfully made

 

We are the wind in the midst of our fears

We have the chance to change the atmosphere 

We are the trees on a cool summer night

Swaying and dancing in His sight 

 

We are the snowflakes that fall swiftly by day 

Unique and different in every way

Yet God is our Father who created us all

And into His presence we can freely fall

 

Each one of us was made to be

Someone who reflects His majesty

 

@ Courtney Whitaker, 2019

 

 

Hope For The Journey

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 

Recently, as we are coming to the end of this school year, and as I have just taken my last final for the semester (praise God!) I have been reflecting a lot on growth and change; where I have been and where I am going. And what this all means.

I’ve never been the kind of gal who loves change and uncertainty. In fact, I wrote a whole post on this a couple of months back here. However the older I get, the more I begin to see change through a new lens—and the more I realize how life is, in and of itself, in many ways, unexpected. If we are not changing and growing, we will eventually find ourselves stagnant. And when we are stagnant, than chances are, we are running from the place where God is trying to bring us to. 

Looking back on my college years, and even this past year, I’ve faced a lot of changes in a very short amount of time. I’ve changed majors. I’ve changed part time jobs a couple of times. I changed churches about a year ago. And on top of all of that, I’ve changed the way that I see change itself—and the ‘divine interruptions’ that so often get thrown our way. Some of these changes have been hard, but most of them have been really incredible. And all of them have shaped me into the person that I am today. 

Here’s the thing guys—life is a journey. It’s a crazy, twisty, windy road with so many stops and views along the way. And we may not know where every path leads, but God does. He designed each of our routes specifically for us. And if we could see all of the plans that God has for us, I’m pretty sure it would totally blow our minds; because God’s plans and God’s promises are so much bigger and more spectacular than anything that we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams. 

I admittedly don’t know a lot about art or photography, but I do know that in both there’s a little something called ‘perspective’. Depending on how you draw a picture, or shoot a photo, the finished product is going to look totally different. Different angles give you a different perspective, even though you’re painting (or taking a picture of) the same person or object.

I am a firm believer that this principle applies in life as well. So often, we can only see life from our perspective—through the lens of the here and now. But what if we had the chance to view our lives from God’s perspective? What if we could see how He’s divinely orchestrated our steps into a symphony that makes up the story of our life? How would our perspective change if we could see every detail of our story? How would each of our lives look from God’s perspective? 

This week, I want to challenge you to see change—and life, differently. To see your life in light of a grander story. To see your circumstances through a different perspective, and see how much God has moved to bring you to where you are today. And if you are in a not-so-great-season of life, I want you to remember God’s faithfulness—how He has guided you through these seasons before and how He will most certainly do it again. I want to challenge you to see your life in light of eternity. I want to challenge you to see life from this perspective—and trust the one who holds it all in the palm of His hands.

Because our God knows exactly what He is doing.

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How about you? Have you ever struggled with change, or uncertainty about the future? What did God reveal to you through this time? Please feel free to share in comments section below! I’d love to start a discussion about this!😃

God-Sized Dreams

“You’re never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” Les Brown. 

I have always been a dreamer. I have always been the girl with big dreams and bigger ambitions—so much so that my Instagram tagline reads, “Christian, writer, youth leader, dreamer…striving to live confidently in Christ.” I have always wanted to do big things and leave some kind of mark on this world. 

I am sure that many of you reading this are the same way. I believe God puts a fire inside all of us and a passion to live out our full potential in Christ. A dream that only we can achieve through Him and for His glory. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV). God knows the plans that He has for us; plans that are bigger and crazier than anything you could ever ask for or imagine.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, how do I know if a dream is from God or myself? How do I know that this dream is from God, and not just from my own head? Since I don’t specifically know what your dream is, I can’t answer that question for sure, but I can say that God has given us a roadmap for discerning these things, through His Word, through prayer, and through the people around us.

The first way that we can discern God’s will for us and for our dreams is through God’s Word. In the Bible, the plans that God had for His people were always for a purpose greater than their own personal fulfillment. Whenever God led people down a certain path or calling, it was always for a purpose that impacted others outside of themselves. Steven Furtick says, in a short message on YouTube that the key to the dream that God has given me is found in the dream that God has given others. Furthermore, God has never put a dream inside of a person that would require them to sin or fall outside of His standards to achieve His purpose. Every time He gives us a dream, it will bring us closer to Him, and to the person that God has created us to be.

Second, we can discern God’s will through prayer and through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). When we ask God to give us direction and guide our steps, He will make His will known to us. It may not always be in the timing that we’d like and it may not always be the way we expect, but God’s plans will always be better than our plans, so never stop trusting the process. 

Third, listen to wise counsel.The people who know you best will be able to help you discern your gifts and pray alongside with you with whatever it is that you feel God is calling you to. So don’t be afraid to ask your best friend to pray for you. Talk to your parents about it. Ask for advice from your pastor, or a trusted mentor at your church. Proverbs 11:14 says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” (NIV). Oftentimes, those closest to us can see where our passions and talents lie—and these things can help us to get a clearer idea of what God might be calling you to. 

Last, find your contentment in God alone. It can be so easy to be crazy intense about a dream that we feel God has placed inside of us, but our relationship with Jesus should always take precedence over our dreams. God cares more about your heart, and having all of you than He does about what you try to do or achieve for HIm. And if we lose sight of the One who gives us our dreams and gives us our passions in the process of trying to chase them, we will be ineffective in fulfilling the mission that God has called us to. So put God first, live each day to it’s fullest in the present, and trust that God will bring His plans to life in His perfect timing.

Image result for god's plans for you

How about you? Do you have any dreams that you feel God has placed on your heart? If so, share them – I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!😃💙       

 

The Cross = Love

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13 (NIV).

As a writer and aspiring author, I’m somewhat of a fan of stories. 

Ok, I’m going to be totally honest with you guys – that’s an understatement. I love stories; like really love them. I was that kid who went to the library every weekend to get new books to read all through grade school. You know the kid I’m talking about.

The one who brought books with them wherever they went. Who would sit on the steps at recess to read the new book in their favorite series. Who stapled very-homemade looking stories together and illustrated them herself with her crayons. That was me, I was that kid. And today, I’m pretty much a grown-up-version of that kid. 

I have a pretty wide range of stories that I have read and loved, but some of my favorite stories are the ones that focus primarily on the friendships and relationships between characters. Not just romantic relationships—but relationships in general. Stories about friendship, and commitment, and sticking by the people who matter most through thick and thin. Stories that give us hope, and show us the better side of humanity.

I think the reason that stories like this have always stood out to me is because there is something inside all of us as humans that longs for this. To have someone in our corner who has seen us at our best and our worst. Who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who will always stand by us, through the thick and thin. Who loves us unconditionally.

We were wired for this kind of extravagant love—however, too often we can try to look to the wrong place to find it. 

So many of us try to fill this need with our relationships with those around us. Maybe we look for it in a particular friendship. Maybe we look for it in a clique, or the approval of a certain group at school. Or, maybe we look for it in a dating relationship—believing that if we can just have our happily-ever-after with the perfect rom-com soundtrack, all of our problems will dissolve in an instant.

However, none of these relationships will be able to satisfy us in the end. Sure, they might be great and they might bring us some sense of happiness, but they will never truly fill the need that we were created with—to know and be known by our Creator. No story that we hope to create or recreate can ever compare to the greatest story ever told—the story of a God who came down to save a world that was broken and shattered and completely without hope. 

Jesus was with God in the beginning, when they (as a Trinity, along with the Holy Spirit) created everything in the world that we see and know today. Every blade of grass and every branch on a tree. Every cell and every particle. Every fish in the ocean and every bird in the air. He also created the first humans (Adam and Eve) and had perfect communion with them, until they broke God’s law and brought original sin into this world—separating an entire human race from a Holy and perfect God. But even still, He loved us far too much to let us stay lost, and broken, and in chains.

He took on the sin of the entire human race and offered Himself as a final sacrifice so that we could be welcomed into God’s Kingdom. He loved us so much that He couldn’t bear the thought of spending eternity without us—even suffering on a cross to give us life. And it is in His death and His Resurrection that we find life, love, purpose, and everything that we were created for.

I know this is a familiar story to many of us and I know that this is something that many of us have heard time and time again. But it is still something that is so important to remember—perhaps, especially during Easter week, when we remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and the sacrifice that He made for each and every one of us.

If you are reading this and you are already a Christian, than I want to encourage you to never stop seeing this story with fresh eyes, and sharing this hope with a broken world.

If you are reading this and you have never heard it before, than I want you to know that God loves you so much and desires a personal relationship with you—all you have to do is let Him in.

If you are reading this and have somehow been burned by the church or by Christians who have acted less than Christ-like, than I want you to reconsider your ideas about God—and not hold God responsible for the things that people do. To know that God loves you and is still pursuing you—and wants you to see Him for who He really is.

Whoever you are reading this, God loves you. 

And this, to paraphrase Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, this is what Easter is all about. 

Image result for cross equals love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV). 

 

21 Lessons For 21 Years

Hey guys,

So, in case you didn’t already figure it out by the title, today is my 21st birthday! 

It is hard to believe that another year has already come and gone, and if I’m perfectly honest, twenty has been so full of blessings, lessons, and new experiences that it feels like three years packed in one. I know twenty-one will be just as great, and as an annual birthday-tradition on 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl, I have created a list of lessons that I have learned in my twenty-one years on the planet. Hope you guys like it! 

  1. Keep growing in your faith – No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, there is always something new that God can reveal to you through His Word and the people around you. There are always new ways that we can grow, and learn, and become more like Christ. So stay in the Word, make prayer your lifeline, and stay in tune with the Holy Spirit. The Christian walk is a journey. Own it.
  2. Find a community – Stay plugged into a community of fellow Jesus-followers who are passionate about God and life. Join a small group at your church, and find like-minded friends. Start a Bible study and encourage each other in Christ. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone and there is so much we can learn from godly friendships. Make these friendships a priority.
  3. Stay close to your family – They have seen you through your best and your worst times. No matter how old you are, never neglect your time with them. Meet your mom for coffee and ask your dad how his day was. Stay in touch with siblings if you have them. Call your grandparents and see how they’re doing, or hang out with them in person regularly if they live nearby. Your family members will always be your biggest cheerleaders and your greatest fans.
  4. Wait for the best – There are still guys who care about God and purity. Who are seeking God’s best for their lives and who will love and respect you in equal measures. Who will challenge you in your faith and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. Wait for a guy like this, and don’t ever settle.
  5. Believe for the best – Even when you can’t see it, believe that better things are right around the corner. Sometimes we have to go through the bad to appreciate the good—but these are only seasons. Never loose faith in people and never loose faith that there are things ahead better than anything you could’ve ever dreamed.
  6. Become the best version of you – Become that person that you always wanted to be. Find your confidence in Christ. Dive deeper in your faith. Make a positive impact in the world around you. Take up that new hobby and chase after that dream. You never know where it could take you.
  7. Expect the unexpected – So much in my life looks different than it was three years ago – but in the best way possible. Sometimes change can be good. As scary, and crazy, and gripping as it can be, sometimes change can be the best thing in the world for you. Trust God. He knows what He’s doing.
  8. Appreciate the little things – Appreciate the beauty of the sun when it’s first starting to rise. Appreciate the sound of birds outside your bedroom window. Appreciate the small, meaningless moments that will turn out to actually be some of the most meaningful and memorable ones. Appreciate your family, your friends and all of the blessings that God has given you.
  9. Let people in – Let the people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and goodhearted people in. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with these people, and share your struggles and your joys with these people. Lean on them and be the kind of person that they can lean on too. I promise you won’t regret it.
  10. Lead by example – Strive to be the kind of person that your younger siblings, cousins, or next door neighbor could look up to, and look to as an example. Stand in your convictions. Love people genuinely. Live a life of faith, love, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Because I can promise you, someone is watching you.
  11. Trust God – There are so many details of our lives that we still don’t know. What (specific) job we’re going to have. Who we’re going to marry. What our lives will look like ten years from now. It can be so easy to make ourselves crazy over these things, but we don’t have to. We serve a God who knows all of these details and more. Trust Him, and don’t rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  12. Live in the moment – Plan for the things in the future that you can plan for, but don’t neglect the present. Don’t neglect the life you are in right now and the ins and outs of this season of your life. Live fully in the moment and appreciate the blessings that God has given you right now. Never be so future oriented that you neglect to be fully alive right now.
  13. Choose to be brave – Oftentimes it can be so easy to let fear hold us back, but through Christ, we can face our fears and live courageously. We can share our faith with that person that doesn’t know God. We can lead a Bible study, or a small group. We can do all of these things and more, through Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Choose bravery – even when you feel afraid.
  14. Its OK to not be OK – My youth pastor once said, “It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to stay there.” Sometimes, in this life, you’ll have trials – but when this happens, take the steps towards overcoming them. Go to God in prayer and ask others to pray for you. Talk to a friend, parent, or youth leader. Find some encouraging verses of Scripture, and some good worship songs. These seasons are hard, but they are only seasons. As I said in point #5, things will get better.
  15. Stay creative – No matter how busy we get, it is so important to give our soul room to breathe. Find a creative hobby that allows you to express yourself and blow off some steam. Take up drawing, or photography. Start a scrapbook. Learn an instrument. Start a blog (hey, it worked for me!). There are so many different outlets of creativity. Find the one (or multiple ones) that you enjoy the most.
  16. Allow yourself time to rest – We live in a society that operates in constant go-mode. That constantly pushes for ‘harder, faster, and more’. However, we can be busy without being productive. Give yourself time to recharge. Read a good book, or call up a friend. Watch A Walk To Remember for the hundredth time. Put on some good music. We all need time to recharge sometimes.
  17. Embrace your quirks – There was I time in my life when I felt like my personality was totally oddball. During my teenage years there were a lot of things about me that made me feel a little less than normal—like my love of tea, cats, and apathy towards heavy metal. I didn’t fit the paradigm of what I thought a ‘normal’ teenager was. However, these ‘quirks’ are all part of the way that God has created me, and with time I have learned to embrace them. So embrace you. Because you’re fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image!
  18. Stay true to your convictions – Being a Christian in college (or high school, for that matter) can make you feel a little out of place sometimes. But stay true to your convictions. Dare to be that gal (or guy) who is committed to absolute purity until marriage. That person who won’t experiment with drugs or alcohol. That person who believes there is something bigger out there than the here and now. I have been (and still am) that person and I have absolutely no regrets. Dare to be different. Dare to be original.
  19. Strive to see the best in people – Strive to see the best in that professor who gives you twenty pounds of homework each week. Strive to see the best in that boss that mixes up your schedule for the billionth time. Strive to see your best in that classmate who who you can’t seem to find a shred of kindness in. These people, like you and I, are still created in the image of God. Choose to see them that way.
  20. ‘Adulting’ isn’t what you think – You don’t become an adult when you get your license, get your first job, or graduate high school. You become an adult through the small, seemingly insignificant decisions that you make every day. Through taking ownership of your life and the person that you want to be. When you dare to live a life you can be proud of. This is what ‘adulting‘ truly is.
  21. Never stop savoring that awesome piece of cake on your birthday – Because hey, you made it to another year! And that is totally worth celebrating! Image result for 21 years

How about you? What are some life lessons that you’ve learned over the years? Feel free to share them in the comments section below! I’d love to hear them!