Scripture Reading: Courage

Courage is faith in action. We are called to step out in faith, regardless of opposition. Please join me for August Scripture Reading: Courage.

scripture reading courage
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash by Guillaume Briard

I need courage. I’m terrified at failing at this blog. Deep down, I wonder if I’m tough enough to handle all the crazy curveballs parenthood throws. Did I ever mention that my marriage to Dan is actually my second marriage? Yup, my first marriage failed after he left me for another woman. I get sick to my stomach if I entertain the possibility of this one ever failing. Here is another big secret – I’m in the market for new mom tribe, but too scared to actually go out and make friends. Right now, my husband is unemployed and I don’t work. God has promised us a job and we are trusting in him to provide. I need courage.

Don’t we all need a little courage? We all have things that we either too scared to set out and do or situations that leave us cowered in a corner. We need courage. Well, we’re blessed because Christ provides it. The bible is full of examples of courage.

Joshua & Caleb

One of my favorite stories about courage in the bible is about Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve spies sent to scout the promise land. Here we find the people of Israel, they’ve been led out of Egypt and finally they found themselves at the threshold of their new home. The spies came back with a report and proof of plentifulness of the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is the fruit.” There was just one catch. The current inhabitants were formidable and giant. “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so were in their sight.”

That was all the people of Israel needed to hear. They immediately became despondent and began to whine and complain. After all they had suffered they were overwhelmed by the thought of having another obstacle in front of them. Even though God had promised to give them the land and victory, the Israelites began to rebel. Only Joshua and Caleb remained faithful – and God was watching.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors.

God ordered that all the non-believers over the age of twenty to remain in the wilderness. Those over twenty, along with Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter. The disobedience of the Israelites cost them their promised land.

Choose Courage

I like to think of courage as the physical manifestation of faith. In other words, courage is faith in action. Throughout scripture God encourages us to “fear not” and ” be courageous.” He tells us “do not be discouraged.” Courage is how we obey those commands. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling fear and doing it anyway.

Faith is a choice. We choose to either take God at his word or disbelieve him. God never lies. So when he says he will not leave or forsake us, we can count on that. If he promises a victory, he will ensure a win. When he promises to provide, we won’t go hungry.

Peter and John

After the death of Christ, the apostles continued performing miracles in the name of Jesus. John and Peter are subsequently arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the very council of holy men responsible for crucifying Christ. First they are interrogated. Then the Sanhedrin forbade them from healing in the name of Jesus Christ. In holy courage, Peter and John stand up against the council and stand in faith refusing to stop. The Sanhedrin, faced with the healed man and a growing crowd of support for Peter and John, agree to release the apostles. As a Christian, you can expect to be told to stay silent or reject the teachings of Christ.

Of all heroes in scripture, I find Paul the most inspiring. Paul faced numerous threats of imprisonment (Acts 20:23, 21:11) and death (Acts 20:3, 23:12-14) and refused to yield. In fact, Paul wrote about half the New Testament imprisoned, surrounded by a sewer. During his imprisonment he even dared to evangelize to his captors (Acts 23:1-10, 24:21-26, 26:32, 28:30-31). Regardless of circumstances, he reminds us we are “more than conquerors.” This kind of steadfast courage is not generated by the flesh, but rather manifested by the Holy Spirit.

Pray everyday for God to bless you with holy courage.

Courage & Conviction

Don’t think that persecution was only in the time of Christ. Christians today are facing immense opposition. The world (society at large) will always try to promote and normalize sin. Christians should not only remain obedient to God’s word, but to continue to speak light into the world. However, this is both unwelcome and unpopular. Christians can expect to ridiculed, humiliated, ostracized, and mocked for our beliefs. In these moments, we will have to find holy courage to remain convicted. Jesus told us that most of the world is fleshly and on a path to destruction. Doing the right thing is a lonely road. Most of the world, won’t agree with you.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we endure humiliation or persecution for His sake, we should remember that we have the great reward of heaven. Earthly persecution is temporary.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Scripture Reading: Courage

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What I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging

The end of February marked my forth month blogging. Blogging isn’t what I thought – I’d love to share what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.

What I've learned in 4 months of blogging

When I started blogging, I wanted lots of things. First, I wanted a side income doing one of the things I love most – writing. I worked as a writer in my teenage years and in my twenties. I even had a magazine at one point. But I was compelled to start a mom blog. I wanted to offer the help and support I needed when I first became a mom. I wanted to share my talents and knowledge (knowledge is useless if it just stays with you). Lastly, I wanted to generate a side income. But blogging has been a bit of a “culture shock” and I want to share with you what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.

It’s Hard To Gain a Following

Ugh. This is the most shocking thing to me yet. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be hard to get strangers to read my blog. But one thing I’ve been surprised to learn is that even your family and closest friends don’t email subscribe and follow you. (Enter shocked emoji here). I’m not sure exactly what I expected. I think I thought people I was close to would automatically support and follow the blog. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, about 97% of my email subscribers are strangers. I guess my point is that as a blogger, you work to win friends and family over too.

I’m not a fast writer. I take my time planning an editorial schedule and to create quality posts. But I have found the 80/20 rule is absolutely true. You spend 80% of your time promoting your post and 20% of your time writing it. You have to promote it constantly on all social media platforms. It doesn’t matter how good or helpful your content is – it’s really, really hard to gain a following. It can feel like you’re begging to get likes, comments, and shares. Can I say it? This is much harder than I thought.

Building Your Brand Is Important

When I first started my blog, I had absolutely no direction. It was a hodgepodge of fonts I liked and things I thought were cute. But I have found that to get a following, you really need to hone in on your blog’s voice. People begin to recognize your “look and feel.” What I didn’t realize, is that it needs to carry over on all your social media accounts. This means using the same font, the same layouts and even the same colors. It reminds people who you are. For example, since building my brand on Instagram, my followers have jumped from 850 to around 1200 in just a month.

The same goes for consistently posting blog posts. I have found that keeping to the same day and time for posts is very helpful for those who do follow the blog.

Laptop
Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

High Quality Photos Are A Must

Cell phones have pretty decent cameras these days, but it just doesn’t compare to shooting in RAW with a DSLR. I used to do photography as a side hustle about 10 years ago. But since becoming a mom, I think I’ve maybe only picked it up once. At first, I used my cell phone and just snapped a few photos. Who cares about the background, right? Wrong!

I’ve learned that your blog has to be aesthetically pleasing. Fact: people like pretty things! If it ain’t pretty, no one wants to look at it! I found myself having to invest in some backdrops, presets, props, and extra lighting equipment. I had to learn to master the flat lay. But I can also tell you it has directly affected my following. It does make a difference. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these two photos. The first one is from my very first month of blogging. The second one is from this month. What a difference 4 months makes.

See what I mean? I’ve come a long way. I’m excited to see how I will grow in the next 4 months.

This Is A Business

Blogs cost money. It’s hard to gain a following on a domain that reads www.wordpress.com/abeautifulmess. People don’t remember it. You have to invest in a domain, hosting, etc. And like I mentioned before, for good photos you need props, presets / editing software, backdrops, reflectors, tripods, and more. You need to find ways to help offset the costs of your blog. This means selling things like printables, e-courses, and other things.

Additionally, it means putting ads and affiliate links on your site. Furthermore, if you think it’s hard to gain a following, it’s even harder to get people to buy things! Did I mention how much time you invest in it? I have learned to be successful, you absolutely need to treat it like a business. It means dedication and investing your heart and soul in it.

There’s A Steep Learning Curve

That being said, you need to learn about the industry. I wish I had done more reading and learning before I launched my blog. There is so much I would do differently. Blogging has a steep learning curve. There are so many things to learn. Photography, wordpress, plug-ins, email campaigns, social media and their algorithms, SEO, blogger communities, and blog industry jargon. Honestly, it is a little more complicated than I realized. Duh, it’s a business. Yeah, I didn’t really know that. What can I say? We learn and sometimes the hard way.

You Have To Keep Your Dream Alive

I can’t tell you how many times I have already thought about quitting. It sounds silly, but the very first thing I mentioned was about how difficult it is to grow a following. Can I be honest? It’s depressing when no one is reading your blog. Or maybe more precisely, you don’t know if anyone is reading it. Again, it doesn’t matter how great your content is, if no one is reading it, it’s pointless. There are times when I’m ready to throw in the towel and then someone will say how much they enjoy reading My Beautiful Mess. In my mind I’m like, “subscribe then!” But I’d never say that! I have such a hard time asking for support.

I have followed Rachel Hollis for a long time. She is a well known blogger. Most people know her from her hit book, Girl, Wash Your Face. The sixth chapter in her book is entitled, No Is the Final Answer. Within the pages, she describes how many times she was rejected. She credits the secret of her success as refusing to accept the word “no.” I honestly don’t know if I have her will. I have a hard time bouncing back from disappointment. When you’re a blogger, there is no one motivating you to keep going. You have to remember your “why.” And as Rachel reminds us, you have to believe that no isn’t the final answer. Nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be, so go ahead…dream big!


This is what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what your dreams are and what you’ve learned on your journey.