Joy In Christ

Hey everyone, I just posted a new vlog at the request of my awesome Instagram followers! Vlogging’s a tad new for me, so it’s a little raw – but I hope you guys like it! I just started a YouTube Channel here, so hopefully I’ll be posting more of these in the future!😃

If you have any thoughts, feel free to post them in the comments section below! The format may be a little different this week, but as always, I love hearing from you guys! 

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Fearless

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

For many people, fear is a familiar face. 

It’s the thing that we feel deep down as we step out of our comfort zone. The feeling that we get when we go up on stage to sing or give a speech. The worry that plagues us as we talk to someone new. It’s likely something different for all of us, but regardless of the specifics, there’s something that we all have in common.

We all struggle with fear in some capacity. 

Maybe not on a daily basis. And maybe we don’t experience it to a crippling degree. But, if we’re honest, we’re all afraid of something. And whatever it is, I believe that it’s something that we can overcome. I believe that we all have the capacity to move past the grips of fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” God doesn’t want us to live our lives out of fear. He wants us to have peace, to trust Him, and live courageously and confidently through His power within us.

I’m going to be honest, fear is something that has often been a stumbling block in my own life. I touched on this a couple of posts back, in my post about vulnerability. It’s a real struggle for me to open up to people, and let people in. I consider people who open up with ease to be some of the bravest people I know, because it’s one of the things that I struggle the most with. But lately, God has been helping me overcome this. He’s been helping me learn to break down my wall. To let people in and trust that they won’t let me down.

Maybe for you, fear looks a little different. Maybe it’s a fear of public speaking, or of talking to someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s a fear of the future, or of the unknown. Whatever it is, God already knows about it. He sees you and loves you in the midst of it.He’s not disappointed in you for having fears—but as our Heavenly Father, He wants us to have peace and joy. He wants us to lay down our fears before Him and trust that He’ll trade those fears for joy. He wants us to learn day-by-day how to live confidently in Christ. 

Here’s the thing guys, we’ll never be able to live out the fullness of the plans that God has for us if we remain trapped in the prison of fear. God calls us to be bold, and boldness can only really happen when we lay down our fears at the foot of the cross. He wants to use us for big things—and oftentimes, that means stepping outside of our comfort zone, and daring to be uncomfortable. These are the times when we bring what have, and God brings the rest. He will never bring us to something too hard for us to accomplish. In the words of Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

This week, I want to challenge you to live fearlessly.

To embrace the fullness of God’s plans for you.

To live boldly, to love fully, and to be the change right where you are.

Dare to be fearless; embracing the freedom found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom we find our strength, power, and perfect peace. 

Life Giving

Right now, we are right in the midst of my favorite time of the year : The holiday season.

I know this isn’t true for everybody, but for me, Christmas has a way of bringing me joy without fail. Last night, my family decorated the tree together, hauled out the decorations, and reminisced through a pile of ornaments. Later that evening, my mom and I watched a new Christmas movie, and soaked in every inch of the holiday season.

In other words, a perfect Friday night.

Among Christmas, there are so many other things that bring me joy. Talking to a close friend over lunch and spilling-our-guts through the beauty and pain of life. Getting a new book from the library that I’ve been waiting to read for months. Seeing family members that I haven’t seen in a while. Engaging in meaningful work. Writing a new story. Cold air after a far too-long-summer. Reading a posts by blogger I find particularly inspirational (right now I’m totally obsessing over Sarah Bessey’s blog, and I’d highly recommend checking it out!).

These are just some of the small things that feed my soul, and some of the things that I’m slowly learning to allow myself to chase after. 

In the world that we live in, it can be all too easy to get sucked into a cycle of negativity. We go on Twitter and see people arguing back and forth over politics. We turn on the news and hear one mass shooting after another. We get caught up in an ever growing list of tasks, leaving us with little time to breathe and live in the moment. We let meaningful connections slide, as we get caught up in the busyness of life.

Sometimes, we don’t even realize how immersed we are in the everyday stresses of life until someone points it out for us. A couple of days ago, I was venting to my mom about how lately, everything seems to be setting me off. I’ll see a snarky political tweet and groan inside. I’ll hear someone talk about how bad this world is getting and feel deflated. I’ll scroll past an article with a conspiracy theory laced view that seemed totally out there and want to scream.

Needless to say, I wasn’t doing well.

In response to that, my mom encouraged me to be a little more selective about what I give my attention to, and to-maybe-spend-a-little-less-time-on-Twitter.

Since then, I’ve taken her advice, and I can already feel my mood improving.

Granted, there are some stressful situations that we need to stay present in. We can’t very well just decide not to do math homework because it makes us anxious. We can’t skip going to work if we’ve had an off day and really don’t feel like it. Sometimes, we have to push through.

However, oftentimes we have more control over other things than we think we do.

Do we really need to follow that twitter hashtag that we know is just going to annoy us? Do we have to listen to that extra fifteen minutes of the news when we already have an ever growing migrane—and when it will still be there tomorrow? Must we Google every big decision that we have to make, rather than simply talking to someone who already knows us about it?

Sometimes, we all just need a break. 

Sometimes we need to chase what we find life giving—and give our souls a chance to breathe.

Sometimes we have to run towards what makes us feel alive, rather than what makes us feel dead inside. 

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

God knows we can’t go on adrenaline twenty-four-seven, and that sometimes we need a break. That’s why Jesus went off to pray by Himself during his time on earth. That’s why in the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites a day to rest. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

So this week, take some time to find your place of rest and chase what makes you feel alive. Shut out the voices of negativity and embrace joy.

And never forget that God is with you—something that we can always find peace, hope, and joy in.

 

Back To School Anthem

This year, let us strive to be world changers.

Let us be people who make a difference, one locker at a time.

Let us be the change we want to see, spreading love and hope to those around us,

Let us stand up for the bullied, reach out to the outcast, and show kindness in our actions and words.

Let us live as our best selves, and live this year with confidence and grace,

It’s a new year, a new day,

We cannot live in the future, and we cannot live in the past, but we can live in the present.

Let us choose joy.

Let us embrace every day with optimism, as if we’re looking through the eyes of a child.

Let us hold to our faith, and let it carry us through the changes and trials of the year.

Let us never forget that we’re not alone,

That thousands of people have walked through those same hallways, and that thousands have been where we are.

Most of all, let us love,

Let us love others, through our actions and words and friendships,

Let us love ourselves as we strive to be the best we can be,

And, last but certainly not least, let us love God, the One who will carry us through every joy and sorrow we encounter

Let us make 2017-18 the best school year of our lives. 

Feel free to use this anthem on your own blog – just be sure to post the link and name below. 

https://1timothy412girl.com/

Courtney Whitaker 

Undefeated

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always loved stories. I love the feeling of getting inside a character’s head. I love watching them overcome battles and struggles. I love seeing their hopes and dreams unfold at the end—as they get the happy ending we were rooting for all along.

We all have our favorite stories. Some of us enjoy romance movies/novels, where we wait for the guy to get the girl. Others enjoy action, like the Marvel series, where we watch the good guy defeat the bad guy. We each have unique tastes when it comes to stories, but regardless of the various differences between them they all have one very important thing in common.

The protagonist always has an obstacle standing in their way. 

Like these stories, we each have our own obstacles that we face on a daily basis, and as Christians, we have a common villain set on our destruction. A common enemy who wants to see us fail. Most often, the battle is within.

As an OCD struggler, I am no stranger to the reality and difficulty of internal battle. Most people tend to associate OCD with being a neat-freak, but that’s only part of it. The thing that drives people to struggle with this condition is unwanted thoughts that cause nothing but harm. It’s an internal battle, which manifests into controlling the things we can—like obsessive cleaning or tidiness. Nonetheless, slowly but surely I’m learning to gain better control over my OCD and better fight this battle.

Even if we don’t all struggle with OCD, many of us deal with intrusive thoughts on a regular basis—thoughts of insecurity, fear, and worry. All which are lies of the enemy. However, as we have the ultimate weapons to fight against these plaguing thoughts—through God and the Bible. We can’t always control the thoughts that go through our head, but we can control how we react to them.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Meanwhile Romans 8:37 tells us that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We might not be strong enough to face these battles and internal struggles on our own, but through the blood of Christ we are warriors destined for victory. Those anxious thoughts that come through our heads and our hearts are nothing but lies of the enemy, and through God’s strength we can resist those lies and stay strong and courageous. We can take those unwelcome thoughts captive and rebuke them with the truth of God’s Word—God loves us, God is leading us, God has a plan for us, and we are characters destined for a life brimming with purpose. 

We each face trials as we travel through this world—but through Jesus, who has already won the battle, we can live victoriously. 

Defeating any arrow that might be shot our way. 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

The Importance Of Rest

Let’s be honest—life can be busy.

Between school, work, responsibilities, and trying to keep it all together, it can be easy for rest to fall to the bottom of my priority list—if it ends up on the list at all. We live in an on-the-go society, between fast food and texting. Interstates and highways. A-hundred-and-fifty-character tweets.

Life is meant to be fast, we’re told—so we always have to move just a little bit faster to keep up.

While it’s good to be busy, and God wants us to work hard at whatever we do, we’re not meant to go 24/7 without rest. Even Jesus, who was God-in-flesh often disappeared by Himself to spend time alone and rest. Even God the Father rested on the last day of Creation, after his work of creating the world was finished.

Sometimes, we need to do the same.

Sometimes we need to be still, and hear what God is trying to tell us.

Sometimes we need to unplug from our busy lives, and take time to kick back and read.

Sometimes we need to spend time with old friends, and recharge enough to be at our best for the rest of the week.

Sometimes, we just need to turn on Netflix, and put on an episode of our favorite show.

These things may seem small, especially in a world that tells us things must always be faster and busier, but they’re essential to human flourishing. They’re the moments that God wants us to cherish—as they’re gifts that He’s given us.

There’s no time like the present to open them.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Just The Way You Are

“You just have to be yourself and go full with confidence and be courageous.” – Gabby Douglas

If you’ve been around the world of the internet and inspirational quotes for a while, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the story of the goldfish. Goldfish, as we all know, were meant to swim. They have the God-given ability to live within water and breath through their gills. Nonetheless, there’s one thing a goldfish cannot do no matter how hard it tries. Fly.

To fly would go against a goldfish’s very design. They have no wings. They’re not wired to fly. A goldfish has wonderful tasks it was created for, but if it’s told it’s whole life that it should fly, the poor fish will eventually get beyond discouraged.

For many of us, that goldfish is relatable—a symbol, if you will. Many of us have spent huge portions of our lives trying to be something we’re not, only to deny the person God created us to be. 

For me, this was a battle that I faced during my early years of high school. During this time, I was on a journey to find myself. Nonetheless, as hard as I searched and as much as I tried to forge my own identity, I always felt like there was this girl I was “supposed to be”. This girl who sat on a bench inside my brain and constantly told me one thing.

Something’s wrong with you.

In retrospect, I couldn’t exactly tell you what caused these bouts of insecurity, or the exact moment it started. Likely, it was a mix of a bunch of things—perhaps partly stemmed from culture and my own perfectionism. I felt like the girl I was supposed to be was different than the girl I was becoming. And this scared me. 

During this time, I did what most young Christian girls in my situation would do. I prayed. I listened to music. I bounced back and forth between trying to be perfect and rebelling in small, retrospectively insignificant ways. I wanted to be myself, and I wanted to be confident in that person. 

Little by little through small baby steps, I slowly began to become that person as I got to my older teenage years. I found a different church to attend with my family. I began to own my faith a little more, and be honest about my thoughts, questions, and doubts. I read a book by Emily P. Freeman called Grace For The Good Girl that impacted me in a big way. I began to find friends and role models who weren’t afraid to be themselves. I started a blog. I sang two songs in front of a crowd senior year—one that I wrote myself and one by one of my favorite singers.

Somehow, through it all a realization hit that helped me find myself and confidence in the way God made me—”Maybe God was OK with me just the way I was”. 

In Psalm 139:13-16, it says “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God created each and every one of us exactly the way we were intended to be. He created us uniquely, with individual passions, hopes, dreams, and personalities. When we find life in Him, He doesn’t intend for us all to look the same. He wants to use each gift that he’s given us to bring glory to His name, and hope to a broken world. 

We weren’t all created for the same purpose, and we aren’t meant to all look the same, but we do have this one thing in common—we were each created for something wonderful.

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And God loves each of us in the midst of our personalities, our beauty, and our flaws just the way we are.

Fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.