Joy

Joy.

It’s one of my favorite words. Joyful is a word that is often used to describe me and if you know me, you know I love finding joy in the small simple things. I don’t require big gestures of grandeur to be able to find the joy. Joy is also the name of my summer home, my cabin at the Bible camp I volunteer at, and I have lots of “joy” decor. Joy is just a really great word. However, sometimes it’s rather difficult to find true, lasting joy in life.

I’ve often baffled people with my joyful and positive attitude. They don’t understand how I can be in a stressful or downright crappy situation and still find the silver lining and smile. Throughout high school and college, I worked at the local Dunkin’ Donuts. If you’ve worked fast food you know just how crazy, stressful, and exhausting it can be. I think sometimes I annoyed my coworkers and the customers were sometimes perplexed. I honestly loved working fast food. I loved the fast pace and the hustle of it all. I was good at it, like really good. I loved my customers too and had a good portion of orders memorized. The regulars would simply just have to say, “It’s me,” when they heard my voice on the intercom. I would typically be the one taking the orders for drive-thru and making them. On more than one occasion I can remember a customer coming to the drive-thru window and making a comment about how cheerful I sounded or questioning why I was so happy when I was running around making coffee. Honestly, it always threw me off guard. I wasn’t sure how to respond and I had to take a step back and examine what my source of joy was. Because my customers and coworkers were right, it wasn’t normal. On the flip side though, there have most definitely been times where I have felt absolutely no joy in my life and pasting a smile on my face felt like the most difficult thing I had to do. Even as someone who loves joy and is often described as a joyful person, holding on to joy in every season is hard and seemingly impossible in some periods of life.

What is the source of your joy? Is it your circumstances? Is it your family? Your significant other? Your children? Your job? The weather? As I began to examine my heart I had the realization that the source of my joy is from none of those things. Sure they make me happy and I love it when the sun shines, but does that mean my joy disappears when the clouds arrive? When I had the light bulb moment and realized where my joy was flowing from it all made sense.

God desires for us to find our joy in Him and in His word!

I learned the more time I spent with God and the more time I spent working on my relationship with God, the more joy was consistently present in my life. The Bible has a lot to say about joy. The word joy appears around 200 times in the Bible, not including it’s synonyms like “rejoicing“. Have you lost your joy? Or maybe you’re trying to find joy in all the wrong places.


Joy is found in the presence of God:

If Joy is lacking in your life the first thing you need to do is some self-examining. The Bible states that joy is found in the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 says that in God’s presence is an abundance of joy! Not just a smidge of joy, but an abundance. So if you’re struggling to find joy, my first question for you is how is your relationship with God right now? Is He first in your life or have you put Him on the back burner? I’m not here to judge you, because many times I have put God in a box in the corner of my heart, only bringing Him out of the box I created when it was convenient for me. If we want true joy we must put God first in our lives in everything at all times. We must be seeking him and intentionally devoting time to Him every single day.

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Psalm 16:11

In Deuteronomy 6:5 the Israelites were given the commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” These words were so important the Israelites were instructed to memorize them, teach them to their children, talk about them at home, on the road, in the morning when they woke, before they went to bed, to bind them and carry them on their person, and to write them on the doorposts of their homes and city gates. This commandment is so important that Jesus reiterates it in the gospel of Matthew. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment found in the law was he responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.‘” Matthew 22:37-38

If you love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength you are going to be spending time with Him and cultivating a relationship with your Creator. When you have a relationship with God He gives you Joy. At the moment of salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit and as we continue to grow in our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit bears fruit in our life, and joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Joy is found in creation:

This is an easy, simple, step in sparking joy in your life. God created this earth for our enjoyment. He didn’t make a lackluster place for us to live, but He was abundantly creative in making us this home. Even in the seemingly simplest pieces, we can find creativity and beauty. It brings me joy knowing that God loves me so much He gave me beautiful things to enjoy. My favorite color is yellow and when I find yellow in creation, it just brings me so much joy. I love seeing the speckles of yellow dandelions in the grass, the yellow of sunflowers and brown-eyed Susans, the golden stripes on honey bees, the bright yellow of finches, and the golden sunshine. I can’t look at it and not feel the joy. I love the smell before rain, the smell after rain, the smell of dirt, because well… I’m a country girl. I love the smell of the woods and how different trees have different scents. The feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer day. The sound of the water flowing in the river or a bubbling brook. I love the way rocks have different hues and shades and I especially love smooth river rocks. I love the feeling of grass between my toes and the sun on my shoulders. I love it when the sky is a brilliant blue with scattered white puffy cumulus clouds. I love listening to the evening peepers and the morning songs of the birds. I love the intricacies of nature. There is joy in creation. Go outside and find the joy God has blessed us within the nature around us.

Joy is found in fellowship and unity:

When we have fellowship and unity with fellow believers it brings joy. Fellowship means friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. So when we are having fellowship with people who are united in Christ, it is a beautiful overflowing of joy. In the past I have attended, volunteered, and hosted women’s retreats. These women’s retreats have been some of the most joyful gatherings I have ever attended because it is a group of women, united in their passion and hunger for Christ. Even though I was meeting some of these women for the very first time there was a sweetness of friendship found in our fellowship. If you don’t have Christians you can fellowship with, ask God to bring you friends. Ask God to open doors of opportunity for you to get involved in your church, to open doors for fellowship. Fellowship and unity doesn’t mean hanging out with people who are just like you. It means spending time with people who love Jesus. I’ve experienced immense joy in fellowshipping with people who are in their 80’s and people who are children, and people of all ages in between. Maybe you are in a season of waiting on Christian friends, but that doesn’t mean your life is without fellowship. 1 John 1: 3 says that our fellowship is ultimately with God. So going back to point number one… Fellowship with the One who created you. When we have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, our joy is complete.

Make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Philippians 2:2

Do you have fellowship with God? You may be able to answer that question confidently or maybe you’re not sure. There are four key elements to having fellowship with God.

  1. You need to have a personal relationship with God. This means you need to be saved; you need to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you don’t believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, you cannot have fellowship with God.
  2. You need to keep short accounts. This means that you need to confess your sin regularly. Sometimes this looks like asking for forgiveness multiple times a day. Being saved from the penalty of sin does not mean you become sinless. The goal is to sin less and to become more like Christ each day. Sinning after salvation is unavoidable because we are human. When we sin it does not mean we lose our salvation, but if we allow it to accumulate we cannot be in a right fellowship with God. Our sin builds a wall and the wall separates us from the source of joy. Confess your sins. Tear down the wall.
  3. You need to read your Bible on a daily basis. The Bible is how we learn about God and how He speaks to us. Don’t expect God to speak to you through a burning bush and audibly hearing his voice. Open His Word and listen for the still small voice stirring in your soul. When you seek Him you will find Him.
  4. You need to be praying. Prayer is how we talk to God. Prayer does not need to look like getting down on your hands and knees with your hands clasped together, although there is nothing wrong with that. You can pray in your head, you can pray in your car, you can pray at work, you can pray in your journal, you can pray all day long. Talk to God about everything and anything. Take it all to Him, lay it all down at His feet. The good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, He already knows everything, but He desires for you to talk with Him. God craves intimacy with His children and we should crave that intimacy with Him.

Joy is found in trials:

This one is tough. Finding joy in trials seems like a bit of an oxymoron. How can you be joyful when you’re enduring trials and sufferings? Peter encourages believers by telling us that we should not be surprised when testings come, but instead to rejoice that we are suffering for Christ because we will someday have great joy when we see Jesus in His full glory. Peter went through a lot of trials and testings. In the book of Acts it describes how Peter was threatened, imprisoned more than once, and his close friends, the other apostles were being murdered. Peter knew what it was to endure suffering, but he also knew that the suffering he was enduring was not worth comparing to the joy that was sure to come. Paul also knew what it was to suffer and Paul wrote about joy a lot in the new testament. Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and he was also receiving news of fellow believers that were being murdered. It was Paul who wrote “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Paul also wrote the book of Philippians, which contains the words “joy” and “rejoice” more than any of his other books, while he was in jail.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials…

James 1:2

Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were able to find joy through their sufferings because they had an eternal mindset. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are risen with Christ, we are not to be seeking earthly things with an earthly and temporal mindset, but seeking things above, seeking Christ and the furtherance of His kingdom. If Paul could sing praises to God while sitting in a dark, cold, damp prison after being beaten then so can we. The same Spirit that was in Paul, is in us. Paul’s focus was Christ and sharing the gospel and because of this, despite the various trials that came his way he still had joy.

Joy.

I’ve learned that being joyful is more of a choice than an emotion. Happiness is an emotion. Happiness is fleeting and can be gone at a moment’s notice. But joy… True joy is not fleeting, because true joy is found in Christ. It is easy to lose your joy when you allow your focus to be pulled to the world. When your eyes are taken off of Christ you give the world and all of its many burdens the opportunity to snatch your joy. But when your eyes are on Christ your joy cannot be stolen no matter what comes your way.

Do you see it? Do you feel it? I’ll say it again, joy is found in Christ. Go back to the first commandment. Love God with all of your everything. He doesn’t promise us a perfect and easy life. He promises to sustain us, to be our strength, to be our joy. We will have tough times and that’s okay. But you don’t have to let the tough times rob you of your joy in Christ and the joy in the eternity we have been promised. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Go pursue your joy in Christ. 

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Dreams and Desires

I’m a dreamer and a doer. The wheels in my head are constantly spinning and they won’t stop. I’m always coming up with a new idea, painting a picture of what’s next, or creating a fresh vision. This dreamer mind-set stirs up so much anticipation and excitement about the potential in situations or the possibilities in life that are yet to come. It’s charming and spontaneous, perpetually striving for more and new and better. You know what, though? It’s exhausting, too. It is a confusing, blurred line. Have I actually entered into an ugly, never-ending competition with myself that will never be satisfied or completed? I’m asking God to deeply search my heart and draw out any toxins getting in the way of what He is truly calling me to.

Do you ever feel like your plate is spilling over in every direction? Have you ever felt caught in a dreary pile of tasks, busyness, to-do lists, and 5-year-plans? There is nothing wrong with productivity, accomplishing goals, or chasing after dreams. However, we can easily become over-scheduled and hyper-organized, searching to uncover joy underneath busyness, tasks, and checked-boxes. This isn’t the life God designed for us, leaving no room for Him to breathe into our weary souls

Many of us are in seasons of life that feel full. We may have a plate that is visibly overflowing. We live in a culture screaming at us all to “keep up”. Do you ever feel like you are always seeking more? Do you struggle with feeling like you could do more or be more? Do you sometimes wake up and feel immediately overwhelmed at the tasks before you, yet you feel paralyzed and stuck, unable to find refreshment for your soul?

It is so easy to get caught up in a sea of accomplishing goals and striving after dreams. Can some of the dreams in our heart come directly from God? Yes. However, sometimes the dreams and visions can get clouded and mixed-up, making it hard to know if we are following God’s desires or our own. God did not create us to simply expel out a list of desires that we want and wait for the check mark to appear. Even if some of the dreams we envision are good and honorable, we can easily miss out on so much while we fantasize and wait. In the same way, if we become too busy and encompassed with noise, never slowing down to breathe, we don’t leave any margin to allow God to move. While we concern ourselves with building an earthly kingdom, making perfectly-curated vision boards and running on empty in a dark cloud of do, do, do, we begin to neglect our purpose on this earth and stray further and further from it. We are not owed ANYTHING apart from the unearned, radical salvation that Jesus so freely offers when we allow Him in. We are not promised security. We are not promised wealth. We are not promised a dream job. We are not promised that the bills will always be paid. We are not promised a home. We are not promised children, or a spouse, or a family.

My security, my hope, and my foundation are Jesus. 
He is my portion.
He alone is what I have been promised.

Everyday when we rise, Jesus is the only stable thing that can be counted on. We have to keep relearning this over and over again. We may feel like we know this truth, but do we truly KNOW it? Do we truly know it even in the midst of disaster and darkness and idols lurking in the shadows waiting to consume us? Each day we have a chance to wake up and lay our hearts wide open as a blank slate for Jesus to use, completely disregarding our own needs and wants. Oh, but it’s hard – so, so hard to put our flesh to death and choose Him over discontentment and busyness. Not only is it hard, but it is sometimes downright painful to live in this world full of credit scores, down-payments, and brushed-over Instagram posts. How on earth are we supposed to stay the course? There is nothing wrong with dreams and desires, especially for God’s kingdom and especially when God’s desires become our desires, but there is something terribly, horribly wrong when our blackened hearts think we are owed everything that we’ve dreamed up.

There is nothing outside of a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”-Mark 7:15
We focus on the world and everything around us needing to change, but in reality we need desperately to change. The darkest sins come from lofty and greedy desires stemming from the depths of our own hearts. Yes, some of that is influenced by outside sources, but ultimately it comes from within. The problem isn’t our neighbors; the problem is us. The darkness all around isn’t something out there in the world to protect our children from, instead it is right inside of us. Until we realize that without Jesus we are literally nothing, unable to move or push the rubble off of ourselves, we will continue spinning aimlessly on a wheel without a destination.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?”-Mark 8:35-36
The temptation to give our lives over to the pressures and influences around us and from within us has never been stronger. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are doing “good” by accomplishing and “checking-off”, by over-scheduling and constant-dreaming, but its quite the opposite. In the pursuit of contentment, we lose our souls and forget what is actually promised to us.

Our homes could be taken away today. We may never be able to have children. We may never put our gifts and dreams on a platform for the whole world to applaud. Our loved ones might die. There might be nothing left in the bank account.

But we still have Jesus. 

We must find contentment in Him alone, minus all of the stuff distracting us.

Maybe you crave comfort, security, and stability like me. At some point, though, pieces of that security will slowly get chiseled and ripped away. Then what? Are Jesus’ promises somehow void?

We all have access to the true peace and contentment that Jesus brings, but we are all running away. How long can we run? Instead of flocking towards Him like we read in the gospels we can sometimes find ourselves running away from Him, breathless and scared.

“And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”-Mark 6:56
I want to be desperate to touch Jesus like that. I want to yearn after Him. I want each day to be a new chance to accomplish His will and appreciate the beauty that He is building, not that I am building. I want to be obedient to His calls and plans, pushing away my own. I want to radiate joy when it doesn’t make logical sense. I want to be generous when I have nothing; love when hate is the theme all around me.
And then….when I look back on my life, I will know it has been a true masterpiece, because the Creator of life itself has crafted every twist and turn.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Grace Squashes Perfection

For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, it is not from ourselves- it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God. Renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

“If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17
)

These verses may seem completely unrelated, but they actually tie together like an unexpected mosaic.

Christ saves us from sin, from darkness, from eternal death, from ourselves, from emotions through GRACE alone. We cannot do or say anything to earn this free gift. No matter how much we strive for perfection (which for perfectionists is every second, every day) we will always fail. Apart from God, we can’t stand. Our endless pursuit of perfection gets us further and further from God, because we wind up looking inward and becoming self-focused and self-reliant. We start to serve our emotions and allow them to guide us. We begin to serve our circumstances and our abilities. We soak in shame, guilt, and regret when we mess up, completely missing the freedom Christ has for us. This freedom and grace flowing out of the salvation Christ offers us, has nothing to do with our amount of accomplished tasks, checked off to-do lists, always saying the right things, never thinking impure thoughts, having a perfectly-polished home, having a perfect marriage, being a perfect mom, a perfect employee, perfect daughter, or perfect friend.

Our hearts are inherently selfish. We want to glorify ourselves and appear polished and perfect all the time. Underneath the mask, though, is the aching, all consuming need for Christ. Despite our failures, His grace is available. We have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. We have a choice of whether or not we will accept this free gift right in front of us, or to keep living for ourselves, striving for perfection, and serving our emotions.

God never intended for our emotions to be a a roadmap of any kind. Emotions are chaotic and always changing; they are the stark opposite of the unchanging, firm foundation that God provides. Emotions are like a house built on a false reality that can be blown down in an instant. Emotions are rooted in SELF, SELF, SELF. Emotions constantly lie and pull us away from God.

But grace.

But salvation.

In our mess, in our stumbling, in our trying and failing, God pulls us out and SAVES US through GRACE alone.

As Psalm 51:10 says, we have to continue approaching Him in prayer, earnestly seeking Him and asking Him: “create in me a clean heart.”

We are unable to have a clean heart on our own. It’s impossible. Only He alone cleanses us.

When we slip back into sin, turn to selfish desires, allow our emotions to take rule, focus on perfection, or turn far from God, we have the BEAUTIFUL reminder that the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the new has come. We are forgiven and through Christ alone we can flourish as a new creation.

A word of encouragement:
It is never too late.
You are never too far gone.
God is after your heart.
He died for you.
No matter how broken and shattered you feel.
No matter how many mistakes you’ve made.
He is waiting with outstretched arms.

If you have questions about Christ’s love for you or what salvation means, PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the contact form on our website or on social media.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

I Choose You: A Battle Plan

The Christian walk is often compared to fighting a battle and running a race. Even if you’re not a Christian, I’m sure you can relate to life feeling like a battle. We battle everyday. We hustle and hustle, striving to get ahead and yet a trial or hardship always rears its’ head. Life is neither perfect nor easy. When facing adversity and hardship it is often accompanied by feelings of stress, fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety.

Fear. Anxiety. Worry. It’s something we ALL face at some point in varying degrees.

For some of us it’s constant, like our head is being pulled underwater. Drowning, unbearable. Others it comes in waves, crashing in when we least expect it. And for some it’s the occasional rain-shower that is sure to clear after a short while.

Anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune: a state of apprehension and psychic tension

The Bible repeatedly and consistently tells us to “fear not”. I haven’t counted this out myself, but people say there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible, one for each day of the year. Do not fear when battles and trials come (a). Do not fear people or what they might do to you (b). Do not be anxious in any situation for any reason (c). In 1 Timothy it even states that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind. Great! Wonderful.  So because God’s Word says do not fear, do not be anxious about anything, you just need to stop being anxious, okay? 

Is it that easy? Can you just stop? Well… No, probably not.
Is just knowing that God doesn’t want us to fear enough to actually stop us from worrying and becoming anxious? Simply having the head knowledge isn’t enough either… But it’s a step.
Is it something we can choose to fight or must we let it consume us? 

I am convinced that we do not have to let anxiety consume us, that we can fight back. It takes action, it takes faith, it takes believing, it takes steadfastness, it takes not giving into your flesh. Honestly, it is nothing you or I can do in our own strength. When I try to fight anxiety in my own strength, it more often than not just leads to more anxiety. Now, I’m not saying that what I’m going to tell you is the cure for anxiety, because as long as we are living on this sin filled sphere, it’s going to be an issue. What I’m going to share with you is a strategy, a battle plan, to help you combat anxiety. There are two key truths I’m going to share with you that I have had to engrave upon my heart.
1. God is Sovereign.
2. My identity in Christ.

The Sovereignty of God

When you are fully believing in the Sovereignty of God there is no room for anxiety, worry, or fear.

God’s Sovereignty means that God is the supreme authority and ALL things are under His control. God is in control in every moment of every situation. Colossians 1:16-17 states that all things were created by God, for God, He is before all things, and it is because of Him that everything consists. God is in control.

Psalm 118:8 tells us “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” This includes all people, even yourself. God’s plans and His timing are always best. You have one piece to the puzzle, God sees the whole picture, and it’s beautiful. He had the puzzle put together before He even gave you that one piece. Sometimes it may seem like I can control a situation, but honestly I can control nothing.

Even through our sufferings God is sovereign, which can be hard to grasp. If God is good, and if God is in control, why does He allow me to suffer? Why does He allow tragedy to happen? Why, why, why? That is the question I have caught myself asking when my trust is in myself rather than in God.

You can find the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis and wowzers… did He endure a lot of straight up bad stuff. His brothers planned to murder him, leave him for dead in a pit. They changed their minds and sold him into slavery instead. He was wrongly accused of rape. He was forgotten about in jail. But God was with Joseph every step of the way. Through it all God had a plan, and it was beautiful.

Joseph eventually became governor of Egypt. When there was a famine in the land he was able to save his family. He told his brothers that what they had intended for evil, God had intended for good (d). God was Sovereign in Jospeh’s suffering and trials, and He is sovereign in the trials and sufferings we endure too.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Psalm 46:1-3

Luther Bridges — He Keeps Me Singing
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumb’ring chords again.
Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ’neath His shelt’ring wing,
Always looking on His smiling face,
That is why I shout and sing.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.

It is said that Luther Bridges penned this hymn shortly after his wife and three children unexpectedly died. When we know God, He leads us, guides us and gives us strength and joy through trials, but we must trust Him and His Sovereignty. Knowing God is knowing that He is Sovereign. Luther had just suffered a great personal loss, but he knew God was in control and beside him through it all.

Anxiety, stress, worry… personally, it all boils down to being a control issue. When things are wildly out of my control I want to fix it. I’m a problem solver. But it is an immense weight off my shoulders and a wave of peace when I remind myself of a simple truth: God is in control, so I don’t need to be.

Your Identity in Christ

When you are fully believing who you are in Christ there is no room for anxiety, worry, or fear.

As a born again believer in Jesus Christ I am a new creation. He has made me new! Christ has a lot to say about who we are as believers and His children.

In this crazy world it is way too easy to let something or someone define you. Attempting to measure up to your own standards or someone else’s can be anxiety inducing. Hiding who you are, molding yourself to fit into the box can be anxiety inducing. Step out of the box of the world’s definition of you and step into Christ’s arms. Let Him define you.

I am a child of God (e).
I am loved by God (f).
I am valued (g).
I am chosen (h).
I have victory (i).
I have direct access to God (j).
I am capable (k).
I am born of God and Satan cannot touch me (l).
The blood of Jesus Christ has washed me clean. Guilt and shame free (m).


This list just barely brushes the surface of your identity in Christ. When I remind myself of who I am in Christ, it frees me. It brings me peace. It no longer matters what others think of me, because I know who I belong to and exactly what He says about me.

The Choice

I believe that we have choices in this world. When Satan fires the dart of anxiety and fear into our hearts we can choose to let it stay there, impaling us, hurting us, causing us to bleed and lose life. We can focus on the anxiety, we can focus on the problem, and all of the possible what ifs. Sometimes we can experience anxiety and don’t even know why we are feeling it. We can let it cripple us. We can let it pull our focus. We can give in to it. We can choose to let anxiety control us, stop us from living life to the absolute fullest. Anxiety can keep us from reaching our full potential. Anxiety can keep us from serving God.

Or we can stand. We can rip out the arrow of anxiety and choose to fight back. That is a painful sounding analogy, but choosing to fight back can be painful. Will we have a wound that takes time to heal? Yes. Will Satan continue to fire the dart of anxiety at you again and again? Yes. Especially if he knows that it is something you really struggle with, you can bet he is going to try to persistently use it. Choose to trust God. Choose to trust that He is control. Fight back in prayer. Is the fight easy? Nope. Claim the promises in God’s Word, who you are, who He created you to be. Know your Savior and His Sovereignty.

God wants us to give our cares, our worries, our fears, and anxieties to Him. He wants us to lay it all down at His feet and leave it there. Sometimes I have the habit of laying it down… and then picking it right back up. He wants us to rely on Him in our times of struggle and nothing else.

The Battle Plan

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Instead of focusing on anxiety or the cause of our anxiety, focus on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous, worthy of praise. God. Focus on God. Focus on His sovereignty. Focus on the identity He has given you.

Claim the scripture. Pray it over your life. If you know someone who is struggling, pray it over them. Prayer is power. It’s how we fight our battles. When we humble ourselves and lay it down at the feet of Jesus, He fights our battles for us. We cannot battle our fears, doubts, worries, anxieties, or anything at all in our own strength. It is in Christ where our strength resides.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

This prayer is my battle plan. When I pray it, it doesn’t always sound or look the same. This is a guide. When I pray this, or anything really, it is so important to pray it from the heart. Pray it like you mean it, don’t let it become a vain repitition in the hopes it’s the “cure.”

Dear God, 
You know my struggles, my anxieties, my fears, my doubts. Help me to claim the promises in your Word. Help me to fully believe in your Sovereignty and who I am in Christ. Lord, I’m choosing to fight my battles in prayer because I know that you are Sovereign and that you love me.

How precious also are your thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: (Psalm 139:17-18a)
God, I choose to trust you because you are sovereign. (Psalm 90:2, Hebrews 1:3, Psalm 97:9)
God, I choose to trust you because you are holy. (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:3)
God, I choose to trust you because I am your child and you died for me. (John 3:16, 1:12)
God, I choose to trust you because you have overcome the death, Jesus conquered death and the grave.  (John 11:25, Romans 6:9)
God, I choose to trust you because through my faith in Christ I am MORE than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
God, I choose to trust you because your faithful love endures forever and nothing can separate me from your love. (Psalm 136, Romans 8:38-39)

God, I choose to trust you because you have said you will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31: 6,8)
God, I choose to trust you because you say you will bear my burden, that I can cast ALL of my cares upon you. (Matthew 11:28-30, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)
God, I choose to trust you because you are gracious, forgiving, merciful, and just. (Joel 2:13, 1 John 1:9, Daniel 9:9, Acts 10:34)
God, I choose to trust you because you say that you have a plan for me and my life. (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:9)
God, I choose to trust you because you know my every thought, you know my every move. (Psalm 139:1-4)
God, I choose to trust you because you are faithful despite my unfaithfulness, despite my worries and my doubts. (2 Timothy 2:13)
God, I choose you. I choose to believe that you are in control of all. I will not worry. You created all things and all things were created for you. (Colossians 1:16-17) You are sovereign over all. 
God, I am saying ‘yes’ to your promises. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Lord, help my unbelief. Help me to trust you. Take away any doubt in the depths of my heart. (Mark 9:24)
In Jesus’ Name, (John 14:13-14)
Amen.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Jeremiah 33:3

Scripture References:

a. Deuteronomy 20:3-4 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

b. Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

c. Philippians 1:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

d. Genesis 5:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

e. John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

f. 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

g. Matthew 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

h. 1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

i. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

j. Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

k. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

l. 1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

m. 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

God is Sovereign:
Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Psalm 97:9 For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

God is Holy:
Revelation 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Isaiah 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

I am a child of God and He died for me:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus has conquered death and the grave: 
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Through my faith in Christ I am MORE than a conqueror:
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

God’s faithful love endures forever and nothing can separate me from it:
Psalm 136 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. He alone does great wonders. His faithful love endures forever. He made the heavens skillfully. His faithful love endures forever. He spread the land on the waters. His faithful love endures forever. He made the great lights: His faithful love endures forever. the sun to rule by day, His faithful love endures forever. the moon and stars to rule by night. His faithful love endures forever. He struck the firstborn of the Egyptians His faithful love endures forever. and brought Israel out from among them His faithful love endures forever. with a strong hand and outstretched arm. His faithful love endures forever. He divided the Red Sea His faithful love endures forever. and led Israel through, His faithful love endures forever. but hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever. He led his people in the wilderness. His faithful love endures forever. He struck down great kings His faithful love endures forever. and slaughtered famous kings — His faithful love endures forever. Sihon king of the Amorites His faithful love endures forever. and Og king of Bashan — His faithful love endures forever. and gave their land as an inheritance, His faithful love endures forever. an inheritance to Israel his servant. His faithful love endures forever. He remembered us in our humiliation His faithful love endures forever. and rescued us from our foes. His faithful love endures forever. He gives food to every creature. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven! His faithful love endures forever.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God will never leave me nor forsake me:
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

God bears my burden and I can cast all of my cares upon Him:
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

God is gracious, forgiving, merciful, and just:
Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
1 John 1:9 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Daniel 9:9 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

God has a plan for me and my life:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

God knows my every thought; my every move:
Psalm 139:1-4 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

God is faithful despite my unfaithfulness, my worries and my doubts:
2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

God created all things, He is Sovereign over all:
Colossians 1:16-17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Yes to the promises of God:
2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Take away doubt and unbelief:
Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

In Jesus’ Name:
John 14:13-14 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

How Soon We Forget

“The disciples were astounded. They didn’t understand what had happened with the loaves of bread. Instead, their minds were closed.” (Mark 6:51-52)

The disciples had just witnessed Jesus do the unthinkable. It was altogether breathtaking and miraculous. They had just witnessed Him feed 5,000 hungry people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Although, they didn’t just watch in awe. They were actually a part of the miracle in action. Mark says that Jesus “kept giving them to the disciples to give to the people.” They were quite literally passing out and sharing the dynamic miracle that Jesus had performed. Even though they had been submerged in this amazing act, just hours later they found themselves full of fear and worry as Jesus got into their boat and the wind stopped blowing. The text says that they were astounded, they didn’t understand, and that their minds were closed.

How can one witness an unfathomable multiplication of food, then see the Son of man calm a storm just by His presence, and still be confused and have an anxious heart? It is SO easy to judge the disciples and want to just yell, “WAKE UP!” in this situation. In the middle of pointing my finger at the disciples, I could almost feel God belly laugh. He spoke to my heart and helped me realize: How often am I doing just that? How often might we all do it? How often does Jesus allow us the opportunity to take part and witness a miracle or amazing work He is doing and we so soon forget, too?


When we witness Him heal someone, change someone’s soul, or see elements of His love pour out of people, it’s easy to praise Him in that moment. In the middle of the miracle, we are easily able to fully give Christ the credit due and marvel in awe. But how soon we forget the love He drenched us in, the truth He washed over us, and the miracle He cascaded in front of us when a storm comes. We forget. He tells us “Calm down! Don’t be afraid!” as He told the disciples in Mark 6:50, when they were petrified of His presence. We, too, often become timid in His presence, lacking the faith in Jesus that is binding and so essential to survive in a storm. We forget the unmatchable work He has done and turn away from the gift of salvation He has given. Instead, our minds are closed and we allow the wind and the waves to get into the boat. We altogether forget to call on the savior whose speciality is chaos.

Let’s boldly ask Jesus to help us to not forget. Let’s ask Him to keep the miracles alive in our hearts. That way when a storm comes, our minds won’t be closed and we won’t be astonished or scared when our Savior shows up. There are small miracles in each moment waiting to be noticed and participated in. Jesus is present in the small and the big. He is capable of so much more than our minds can even fathom. I want to be ready for that. I want to be waiting and hopeful, expecting Him to move. I want to collect all of those miracles in my heart. Doubt, fear, anxiety, incompetence, complacency, and confusion can’t beat me down anymore after His vibrant miracles rest safely in my heart. Those lies won’t stand a chance.

I don’t want to forget.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

I Lose Myself

“It’s when I’m self-centered that I am the most alone. Because when I’m focused on myself, I don’t see anyone else.”

I Lose Myself

It's when I'm selfish that I lose myself. 
It's when I'm self-centered that I am the most alone. 
Because when I'm focused on myself, I don't see anyone else.
Escaping such a state could be considerably difficult, 
for I have become so short sighted I can't even see the starting line.
-O. Louise

Putting Ourselves Aside

The text written above is an excerpt from a poem I wrote awhile back. They are ugly words, but those words are also an important part of a bigger thought process. A world centered on one person is a small place. As human beings are social creatures it is natural for us to benefit from interacting with others. We have all heard it a million times, the golden rule, do unto others… We tend to forget, we can actually prosper and improve on our own lives by helping out someone else and considering their needs.

The Lone Clover @ctw_photography_

I know I am not a poet, but you might be. Send us something that you would like to share to radiantlybrave@gmail.com and it might be featured in a future post!

Olivia is an eclectic creativity enthusiast. A teacher by profession, but an aspiring storyteller on occasion. Her super power is her compassion.