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!

 

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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!😃

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. 

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“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). 

 

Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  – John 14:27 (NIV).

Peace. It is a word that we all long for, yet few know how to find. A word that in just five letters, sends calming images to mind and a feeling of comfort to our hearts. A word that conjures up images of beaches and long summer nights. Christmas lights and fireplaces. All things nice, and cozy, and well—peaceful!

It is also a word that is severely lacking from most of the word’s  vocabulary today. 

As humans in present-day-society, we are often encouraged to view life through the lens of lack and scarcity. We are encouraged to chase more prestigious jobs with a higher pay. We are encouraged to get into the most impressive college and make the dean’s list. We are encouraged to change our appearance based on perceived flaws and social norms. We are encouraged to be better, faster, and more. All while killing a part of ourselves in the process.

Little by little, we begin to place our hope in these things—forgetting that as Christians, our joy was meant to be something a lot more eternal.

Though it is something that on some level, I’ve known for years, I have been learning what it means to find peace in Christ, even in seasons that try and test this peace. I am learning what it means to breathe. What it means to let go and let God. What it means to find rest in God’s grace and love—and remember that in itself is enough.

As I write this, I am reminded of some of the things that give me sort of a ‘peace’ in the physical realm. Warm tea. Ice cream and a good movie or TV series on Hulu. A new book. The feeling of a warm blanket. Lights strung during Christmas time. I am also reminded of the things that tend to steal my peace. Too much homework. Early shifts at work. Unexpected bad news. Running late for anything. Driving in torrential rain. These kinds of things, despite my desire to stay calm, often have a tendency to rob me of my peace in an instant.

Writing both about the things that give me peace and the things that send me into panic mode, I feel led to ask you this question—which is your faith for you? Is your faith in Jesus a place where you can find rest, a place that gives you the peace of eating ice cream and watching your old favorite movie? Or does it feel more like akin to the anxiety of too much homework—a task that feels overwhelming, and that you feel you must ‘perfect’ in order to win God’s approval?

According to Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, the Christian life should feel more like the first example. This passage says, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me.[a] I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.[b] 29 Simply join your life with mine.[c] Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle,[d] humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.[e] 30 For all that I require of you will be pleasant[f] and easy to bear.” (TPT). 

God wants us to find an unexplainable peace in Him. A peace that can carry us even when our lives are anything but. A peace that does not come from religious works or legalism, but from a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. The Christian life does not mean we will not have trials, or feel stress from time to time, but it does mean that we have a hope and a love that can carry us through it. We have something that can sustain us even through the seasons that threaten our peace. 

This week, I want to challenge you to sink into that peace. To rest in God’s presence. To sink into His oasis. To remember that Jesus is gentle, humble, and easy to please.  To find peace in His love, mercy and grace. And, to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV).

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How about you? How do you sink into God’s peace when the storms start to come your way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below! Also – check out this really great song all about this by Lauren Daigle here! I heard it at a Christian conference a couple of weeks ago and it is really good! 

Borrowed Faith

“Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles.” – Galatians 6:2 9 (TPT).

A couple of days ago, I had someone tell me that they felt extremely led to inform me that I needed to talk about borrowed faith on this blog—in those exact terms too. So, considering that doesn’t happen very often, and that I try to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in regards to this blog (and you know, life in general) I decided to give this post that exact title.

To clarify, when I use the term ‘borrowed faith’, I am not speaking in terms of salvation. Every person must make that decision for themselves and we cannot rely on someone else in our relationship and walk with God. We do however, all at some point, reach a time when we are struggling to have faith for our particular struggle or season. Seasons where all we can see is a tunnel of darkness with seemingly no clear end in sight. I have gone through seasons like this and I’m sure you have as well. They are only seasons, but when we are in them, they can seem to last a lifetime.

That being said, in times like these, we can (hopefully) lean on those around us to get us through. Where we can ‘borrow’ the faith of others when we struggle to have faith in the midst of our own situation. I had a season like this when I was a new Christian, way back in Jr. High School, when I was dealing with some complicated situations within my family. Situations that felt nearly impossible to walk through at that point in time. I’ve also dealt with plenty of other smaller seasons where I felt lonely, confused, or anxious—where God surrounded me with people who have helped me get through. People who’s faith I could ‘borrow’ when the weight I was feeling felt like too much to carry on my own.

However, sometimes, we are called to be this person for others. To have the kind of faith that someone can borrow when they’re in one of these seasons. As Christians, we are called to be sensitive to the needs of those around us, and be someone that others can turn to during these times. Someone that a friend could call up to share their problems with; someone who will pray for (or with) someone who’s struggling, and who reaches out to that classmate at school who is sitting alone at the lunch table nearby. 

Maybe you’re reading this today and thinking, “I’m the one who needs to borrow faith today”. If that’s you, than I want to encourage you to reach out to someone you can trust; whether it be a relative, a friend, a youth leader, or a pastor. I want to also encourage you to go to God directly. Get on your knees and just cry out to Him. He knows every detail of your situation no matter how hard it may be or how alone you may feel. And things will get better. It may not seem like it right now, but life has a way of turning around at the most unexpected times in the most unexpected ways. So keep holding on tightly to that rope – you never know where the next chapter might bring you.

Or maybe as you’re reading this, someone comes to mind. A friend, or fellow student at your high school (or middle school, or college). A co-worker, or neighbor. Someone from church, or an extracurricular. Whoever it is, I want to challenge you to be intentional with this person this week. To let them “borrow your faith” so to speak. Be the person that you needed during a season like that. Tell them you’re praying for them, or offer to pray with them. Let them know Jesus loves them. Be a friend, and an ear that will listen. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” And in John 13:35, we are told that we are to be known by our love. 

Also, if there’s anything that you’re dealing with, please leave a note in the comments section or DM me through my Instagram page! I’d love to let you ‘borrow my faith’ and pray with and for you guys! 

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How about you? How can you be a voice of encouragement in your school and your sphere of influence this week? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below! 

Fix My Eyes

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” – C.S. Lewis. 

In our day to day life, it can be so easy to get caught up in our everyday troubles, and miss what matters most. To miss the one thing that we were put in this earth to do; know God and make Him known.

Recently, this has been something that God has been placing heavily on my heart, and I felt led to share. It is something that I have been learning, and processing, and figuring out in my own life. Something that I cannot say that I live out perfectly, but that I have been striving to improve in. Something that I feel like every Christian must grasp in order to grow.

Hebrews 12:2 says much of what I would like to try to say in this blog, as it reads, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” (MSG). As Christians, we are running a race. And if we want to achieve full victory, we must keep our eyes on the prize, which is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I cannot stress enough how easily it is to stray our focus onto other things. It is something that I battle in my own life, as a Christian college student in the 21st Century. There are a million things that scream for our attention as we struggle to juggle all of these things at once. I have seen this struggle in friends and peers in regards to school. I have seen this struggle with others in regards to work, or a goal of some sort. I know I personally have dealt with this in a variety of situations at various points in my life—ranging  from potential jobs to potential relationships. From lifelong dreams to algebra exams. 

However, last week in my hometown there was a shooting at a local high school. Someone took their own life right in the middle of the school. Tragedies like this remind me how important it is that we always keep first things first, and never let the everyday-ness of life distract from the things that God has put us on earth to do. To never let school, or work, or guy-drama detract from sharing God’s love with those who are hurting or who don’t know God at all.

There’s a world out there that is starving for love. That is starving for someone who is willing to reach out to them, and share the love of Christ. And as Christ’s hands and feet here on this earth, it is our job to spread that love to those around us. To never miss a chance to share the Gospel with someone, even if it may be uncomfortable in the moment. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV). This is our calling as Christians, no matter what other callings God may have given us – to share His Word with the World.

To conclude, I would like close with a passage that I believe speaks into this. It’s found in Philippians 3:15-17 (MSG). “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal.”

Every day is a new opportunity and a new chance to set our eyes on Jesus. To focus on our Savior and the mission fields that God has given us in our day to day lives.

To, in the words of the Hillsong New York Pastor, Carl Lentz, ‘Occupy all streets’.

What will we do with these opportunities?

What will we do with these chances? 

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How about you? What are some ways you are striving to ‘occupy all streets’ in your town for Jesus? I’d love to hear how Jesus is working in your lives in the comments below!