Twenty Lessons for Twenty Years

So…today is the big day. My twentieth birthday. 

And if I’m totally honest, I feel no different than I did yesterday.

Nonetheless, in the tradition of posting a blog-per-birthday, I decided to write about twenty things that I’ve learned over the last twenty years.

And I hope you enjoy reading them!

  1. Trust God – I know that I used this one last year, but it is still so relevant! Every year life changes, and we are faced with new challenges, trials, and oppositions. Nonetheless, in the midst of this God is always constant. He was, and is and is to come (Revelations 1:8) and He never changes or acts inconsistently. Through all of life’s trials, we can always turn to Him for guidance and direction.
  2. Hold onto your true friends – As we go throughout life, it’s likely that we’re going to meet tons of people. Some are going to enter our lives and some are going to exit. Nonetheless, through all of this it is so important that we keep our true friends close! Friends are hard to come by, and when you come across the ones that will stand by you no matter what, don’t let them go! They’re one of life’s rare gems.
  3. Stay true to yourself – God has crafted each one of us into something unique and special. We were all created with innate worth and potential. And, in a world where everyone is trying so hard to fit in, it is so much better to stand out – making the choice everyday to be true yourself and live your life with confidence in Christ!
  4. Stay close to family – The older you get, the more you realize how important your family really is – and how short of a time that you have with them. Make the most of the time that you have with your parents, grandparents, and relatives. More than likely, they have a lot of wisdom that they’ve obtained over the course of their lives – and they’ll always be your biggest cheerleaders!
  5. Appreciate the small moments – Because one day, those small moments will be big moments.
  6. Chase your dreams – In the words of a song by 33 Miles, “You only get just one time around, you only get one shot at this…one try, one ride, one life.” Don’t be afraid to make this life everything that you want to to be – and go after your goals with the confidence that you can achieve them.
  7. Working hard pays off – Sometimes, hard work isn’t easy or fun in the moment, but it pays off in the long run. Put your all into every project, every job, and every assignment that comes your way. I promise you won’t regret it!
  8. Make a difference – Every day we are given the chance to make a difference in someone’s life – no matter how small it might seem. Don’t waste the opportunities that God has given you to be a light for Him, and make someone’s day a little brighter.
  9. Hard times never last forever – Each one of is going to face trials and tribulations in this life. It’s part of living in a fallen world. But we’ve all been there, and it will get easier. Don’t forget to reach out to God, family, and friends during these times. Sometimes, we all need to ask for help, and we all need somebody to talk to.
  10. Don’t be ashamed to rest – None of us were made to keep going 24/7. There’s nothing wrong with resting, and taking a break after a day of hard work. We all need rest sometimes, so we’re refreshed to keep going in our daily lives and tasks.
  11. Life is more than the things you post – In the modern world, it can be so tempting to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to post a picture on Instagram, or a quote on Twitter, but life is so much more than that. Don’t forget to live in the moment, and forget about your social media for a little while.
  12. Age is just a number – Sometimes, once you get into your teens, birthdays can get a little scary. You’re faced with the realization that you’re getting older, and you have a lot of life decisions ahead of you. But sometimes, it’s best not to focus on the number, and just do what you need to do each day, which brings me to my next point…
  13. Take one day at a time – Jesus actually gives this same piece of advice in Matthew 6:34. He says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” If you take one day at a time, life becomes a lot easier to handle.
  14. Find something that you love to do – For me, hobbies have always been a great way to relax and have fun. They help us to de-stress from the responsibilities of the day and give us an outlet to pour our energy into. Personally, my main hobby is writing—but for you, it may be any number of things, from singing, to sewing, to soccer. Find out what it is – I promise you won’t regret it.
  15. Don’t make a SO your whole life – For those of you who don’t know, ‘SO‘ is a trendy term for a ‘significant other‘. And the reason I use this term is because it’s not just a girl problem—guys do this too. Since I’ve gotten to college, I’ve seen more and more people get so consumed in a boyfriend or girlfriend that they forget about everything else around them. There’s nothing wrong with dating, but never get so wrapped up in the person you’re dating that you forget the other important areas of your life.
  16. Stand up for what you believe in – Never be afraid to use your voice and stand up for what you believe in. It can often be scary to share your views, whether they be a belief in God, a political opinion, or a cause that you feel strongly about, but it’s so worth it. Speaking up can make a real difference, and they say that one spark starts a fire. Never be afraid to speak out.
  17. But do this with gentleness and respect – Branching off of the last topic, as important as it is to stand up for your beliefs, it is also important that you do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). It is important that we respect those around us, and present each of our beliefs and views with love.
  18. Don’t be afraid to try new things – I’ll be the first to admit that I hate change. Nonetheless, sometimes change can be good. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
  19. Take the time to appreciate beauty – Every day we are surrounded by beauty in this world – whether it be a kind word or a beautiful flower that we see outside. Take the time to appreciate these things, or as the old saying goes, ‘take time to smell the roses‘.
  20. Celebrate life’s accomplishments – You know, like writing a post to celebrate getting older. That sort of thing.😉

There you go! Twenty lessons for twenty years! I hope you enjoyed reading these, and if you have anything that you’d like to add, feel free to write it in the comments section! I’d love to hear your thoughts!😃

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Growing Up On 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl

Hi everyone, I hope that you had an awesome Easter and a wonderful stuff-your-face-with-candy-day-after-Easter! I know I did, and if you want to see some of the pictures, you can feel free to see them on my Instagram page here.

For those of you who don’t know, or who are new around here, I’ve been publishing blogs on this site since I was seventeen years old. As a college student who’s now almost twenty (eek!), I’m pretty proud to admit that!

Nonetheless, with time comes change (Even though as an ENFJ with a hard J, I’d prefer nothing changed—ever!), and the older I’ve gotten, the more stumped I’ve become for topics. For those who are worried, I’m not planning on breaking up with this blog anytime soon (love you guys!), but I am planning on making a few changes around here.*

You see, over the past three years, I’ve mostly used this blog as a place to publish articles on all things faith, growing up, and living. I’ve addressed a pretty wide range of topics too, ranging from social issues, to politics, to relationships, to friendships, to living confidently in Christ. However, going forward I would like to expand my horizons. Rather than making this blog soley about various challenges and issues that we face as young Christians, I’d like to make this about all-things-life.

My goal has always been to keep this blog real, and lately, I feel like I’ve been struggling to do that. Because if I’m honest, there is so much more that I’d like to share with you guys besides just articles. I’d like to share about my random thoughts and musings. I’d like to share about that-really-awesome book that I just read the other day. I’d like to share about what God’s teaching me, and interesting experiences going on in my day-to-day life. I’d like to make this blog a journey—where we both travel to figure out the Christian life together. 

The last three years have honestly brought about so many changes, challenges, and new things that it’s hard to believe that it’s been just three years. Somehow, I’ve transformed into a high school senior just starting to grow into her own skin to a young adult—making decisions about college, life, and my career. I’ve graduated, had my first part-time-job, worked my first internship, made new friends, and experienced many ups-and-downs of life. It would be a lie to say that I’m exactly the same person that I was when I started. It would also be a lie if I said that my blog hasn’t already evolved into something much different than it was when I launched it back in 2015.

So let’s keep growing. Keep learning. And keep traveling together.

One step at a time.

Trusting God all the way.

*As you may have noticed, I already changed the layout to a pretty sweet new one! 

A Prayer For Christmas

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This Christmas let us remember the reason for the season.

Let us, in the midst of the cooking, the wrapping, and the shopping, take some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Let us reach out to others, remembering to put them before ourselves and helping those who are less fortunate.

Let us pray for the homeless, the veterans, those away from family, and all those who have situations much more difficult than our own.

Let us remember those closest to us, and spend some time with friends and loved ones as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Let us never take anything for granted but be thankful for what we do have, as we anticipate a new year filled with hope, resolutions, and promises.

Let us take some time to enjoy the little moments, those small nameless moments that get pushed aside for the glamor of Christmas, because someday those small moments won’t be so small anymore.

Let us remember those we miss, be thankful for those that we do have, and move forward with the hope and knowledge that someday we’ll be see our deceased loved ones once again.

Let us put aside our busyness, our stress, our fear, and our worries, remembering that in the midst of all of the stress of life, we have a Savior who understands, and a peace in the midst of chaos.

Let us deck the halls, enjoy our Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, and surround ourselves with love, because this season only comes once a year.

And, despite the fleetingness and busyness of this season, let us keep its spirit in our hearts, so that in some ways, this holiday may last all year long.

* * * * *

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14

 

Thoughts And Ramblings of The Christian Writer (Part One)

“The Christian in the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” 
― Francis A. Schaeffer

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been an author at heart. I have always loved telling, creating, and reading stories. Whether it be a book I found at the library, a movie that I just saw at the local theater, or a real person’s growth and testimony, stories fascinate me beyond belief. Being a storyteller is an integral part of who I am.

As most of you (hopefully) also know, faith is an integral part of who I am. If I was to rate each part of myself, faith would always come up on top, as my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. And while there are many great Christian authors who do not include their faith much in their stories, I cannot imagine keeping my faith out of my stories. One way or another, Christianity is bound to play some sort of role in my writing—it is simply the way God has called me to write.

Nonetheless, like many other people have pointed out, Christian art doesn’t exactly have the best reputation right now. Some may pin it on the fact that we live in an increasingly secular society and others may blame it on small budgets, but a fact still remains.

Oftentimes, faith based stories come out sub-par. And as a Christian and a writer, this is something that I find quite sad. 

I don’t think it is because Christians are inherently bad at storytelling. I also don’t believe that it’s because Christianity makes for a weak storyline—look at the Bible! I believe most of our problem is in our approach, and that with a little hard work, we can create stories that are both well made and and reflective of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Thus, I have decided to create a short series on writing good Christian fiction—and the first part of this series will be on writing good characters.

One of the most important things in writing a good story is creating a strong cast. For me, characters are the first thing that draws me to a story. That said, one of of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in (some) Christian fiction is that the characters exist for the story—not the other way around. 

In real life, we live amongst a wide variety of personalities, narratives, and temperaments. Ask me to name my five closest friends and I can point out specific traits that make them unique and special. However, in a lot of Christian novels, I have only seen a few personalities represented—and they’re often in extremes for the point of showing a character come to Christ.

Elaborating on this, many character only have struggles that are dramatic, cliche, or too-subtle-to-notice. I have seen female protagonists who come across like a damsel in distress, but rarely female protagonists that battle stubbornness and hard-headedness. I seen male protagonists who struggle with lust or anger, but rarely male protagonists who struggle with overeating, or self image.

Furthermore, I haven’t often seen characters who have quirks or interests that aren’t essential to the story or lesson. In The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Tibby loves filmmaking, Bridget is impulsive, Carmen is introspective, and Lena is noticeably introverted. Those details aren’t necessary to the book (though, I suppose Bridget’s impulsiveness could be argued as essential in the first book) but they added life to the characters. They made them feel real and they made them relatable to the audience. Meanwhile, in The Hunger Games, there was a guy named Peeta who’s a baker. Corny? Maybe. Memorable? Absolutely.

In short, it is important to know your characters intricately, and for them to be written as if they have a life outside of the story. It’s important that they feel like characters we can get attached to and relate to. And, considering the vast diversity that we have in our churches, it is important that they represent a variety of different personalities and people. The kind of books that I love the most are the ones that  make me feel like the characters are my best friends. This is something we must do if we want our stories to feel real. Interview your characters. Stick them in various situations and see how they react. Consider how they would think or fall in love. Or how they would dream.

The kind of characters that become the most memorable are the ones that feel the most real. It is our job, as authors, to breathe as much life into them as we can.

Christian books/series/movies that get this right.

  • The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn
  • The Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  • SouledOut Sisters Series by Neta Jackson
  • There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
  • October Baby 
  • Do You Believe

How about you? Do you have any tips on how to create good characters? And have you read any books that you feel do an exceptional job with this? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

 

 

A Life Update And A Lesson Learned

Hey everyone, sorry for the long-time-absence. I promise that nothing has been wrong, other than my sheer busyness and procrastination. Nonetheless, there has been a lot that has been going right lately, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

Recently, I have made a career change and I feel really good about it.

 I have realized that God is calling me to become a teacher. 

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Interestingly enough, this was my original plan all through high school—and truth be told, I’m honestly not sure the desire ever went away completely. I watched shows like Glee and imagined how cool it would be to leave an impact on the lives of others—the way Mr. Shcue does in his Glee club.

I also thought back to my own high school years (which honestly aren’t that long ago) and how much the classes I was in affected the person I am today for the better. I went into high school shy and insecure, but left confident and with a group of friends better than I could have ever imagined. I would love to the chance to play a small part in helping other students grow—and create the kind of classes that they’ll remember for years. Though you can make a positive difference in journalism as well, I realized that as an extravert, I really need a career where I’m around people—as I’m pretty sure I’ll go crazy otherwise.

Since I’ve made this change, I’ve been feeling much better about life and the direction that it’s taking. Furthermore, I realized a mistake that I made for most of my freshman year of college—I realized that you can’t live your life by another person’s script.

Because I was in the midst of such a drastic change, I fell into a pattern of looking to others for what I should do in life. I wanted some kind of direction or path from those who have gone before me.

In doing this, I failed to see the beauty in my own story, and my own unique journey.

I switched to journalism because one of my favorite authors became the successful fiction writer I wanted to be through that career. I was down on myself for not yet having a license to drive on my own—when I was sure I’d be further ahead by now. I felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t have a boyfriend (or an interest in getting one, for that matter) when literally everyone I knew started dating—even though I was in the process of getting over a really long-term crush.

Now, with that year behind me, and a few lessons learned, I’ve realized that my story isn’t the same as everyone else’s and neither is yours. God has different plans for each one of us, and that’s OK. We should never copy someone else’s path because it worked for them—we have to find our own path, and stay connected to that still small voice in the process.

As much as I sometimes long for a step-by-step checklist, life doesn’t usually work like that—and sometimes we have to find our story one piece at a time—trusting that God is writing something beautiful with our lives.

If we do that, than we might just be on the right path after all.

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

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