Encourage Your Hopes, Not Your Fears

I’m not really big on New Year’s resolutions, but people talk about them enough that the idea is something I think about. And so January has become a time for thinking about what happened last year, what I’d like to change in this next year, and how I plan to “show up” for my life.

Part of this focus in the new year comes along with participating in 30 days of yoga. I’ve been doing this Yoga With Adrienne program every January since 2015 and it’s a wonderful way to check in with yourself, get healthy, and focus on becoming a person who can serve others wholeheartedly. In addition to this, I happened upon an interesting blog post titled “Intentions Not Resolutions.” 

“I no longer make New Year’s resolutions – they’re too easy to give up on after week one and only become a source of guilt. … Instead, a few years ago, I began starting my New Years by choosing a word to inspire the kind of intentional living I wanted to focus on for the year.” — Jen of E.C.B.C

I’d sort of tried this last year when I discovered a site called My Intent that makes bracelets with a custom word on them. I couldn’t pick one word, though, and ended up with a bracelet that says “Balance” and “Connect.” I rarely wear it any more, though those two concepts still resonate deeply.

Encourage Your Hopes, Not Your Fears | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: MarrCreative via Lightstock

I’ve been thinking for a while now that if I made a new bracelet it would say “fearless.” What with working through my breakup and (finally) getting counseling for the anxiety I’ve been living with for 15+ years, 2018 was a year that I realized that 1) I have a lot of fears, and 2) I don’t have to let them control me.

There’s another bracelet that I picked up last year at an art festival that says, “Encourage your hopes, not your fears.” I’ve been wearing that one a lot. It’s the perfect message to combat my anxiety, which generally pushes hopes aside behind all the things that could go wrong because of all the things that I’m sure are wrong with me. But if I spend all my time turned inward thinking about my fears, then I’m just encouraging my anxiety to take over.

If, on the other hand, I encourage my hopes it changes things. And if I can learn to do that more consistently it might drastically change things. I hope I can keep growing this blog to reach and encourage more people. I hope that I’ll stop sabotaging myself because I’m scared of dealing with everything that might come with being a successful blogger and author. I hope I can climb out of my own head more often and connect with others (including God) in a deeper way.

My intention for 2019 isn’t just one word, but I do have one. I’m going to encourage my hopes, not my fears.

What about you? Did you set any intentions or resolutions for the New Year?

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How To Communicate More Comfortably As An Introvert

Talking can be hard for introverts. Get us in just the right setting and you might have trouble making us shut up, but in most everyday conversations we struggle to come up with anything to talk about. As I wrote about last week, many introverts struggle to talk about personal things. Beyond that, we struggle with knowing what to talk about at all.

We often assume most people don’t want to hear about the things we care about. We think it sounds boring to  answer, “What did you do last weekend?” by saying “Stayed home with my cat and watched Netflix.” Or we worry that we sound uninteresting if we answer, “What do you like to do?” with “Read, contemplate life, hide in a blanket fort … you know, exciting stuff like that.”

The Kind Of Talking We Don’t Like

About 50% of the population is introverted so there’s actually a good chance of you finding other people who think what you enjoy is perfectly normal because they also enjoy similar things. But for those of us in the United States, and other cultures that tend to have more “extroverted” values, we might still feel pressure to not be “weird” and stick with “normal” topics of conversation. Read more

Why It’s So Hard To Talk About Personal Things As An Introvert

If you’re an introvert, do you enjoy talking about yourself? Many of us don’t. We don’t want to share personal details. We’re also hesitant to ask other people personal questions. If they want to share that’s okay, but asking them feels like prying. We don’t particularly want to be pried into so we assume other people don’t either.

But whether we like to admit it or not, sharing personal details and stories is key to building connections with people. Whether we want to have a good business relationship, keep in touch with acquaintances, develop a friendship, or enter a relationship with someone we have to be able to talk about ourselves and ask questions about the other person.

Learning to talk about ourselves and engaging with others on a personal level can be a challenge for introverts. This also means it’s a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. I don’t know about you, but I would love to be a better conversationalist. I don’t want to become “more extroverted” per se, but I do want to learn to communicate well as an introvert. Read more

Fighting Something You Can’t See

Choosing to follow God means we’re walking in harmony with Him. And that means we’ll be walking out-of-step with this world and with “the god of this world,” as Yahweh’s adversary is called (2 Cor. 4:4). In many ways, our Christian walk is one of warfare and struggle.

One of my ongoing struggles is with anxiety. My mind wants to loop through worst-case scenarios and imagine all the “what if?”s in a given situation. I’m often nervous, jumpy, and preoccupied with what’s going on in my head. My anxieties are something I can’t see, and unless I tell people about them or have a panic attack in public most wouldn’t have a clue how much it impacts my life (they call this “high functioning anxiety”).

Scriptures tell us that as Christians, the battles we face have spiritual components. These sorts of battles are difficult whether they’re visible to other people or not; whether they’re internal or external. But even when we feel like we’re battling something we can see — a nasty coworker, a disease, a failing relationship — Paul reminds us that we “do not wrestle with flesh and blood.” There are spiritual forces behind all the battles we face (Eph. 6:12). And we can’t see the full extent of our battles, or fight them effectively, without God’s help.

The Usual Type of Battle

It’s often a struggle for me to answer the question, “How’ve you been?” or “How was your week?” Unless something electronic breaks or someone I care about is going through something, my weeks would usually look pretty good from the outside. And I don’t want to tell most people that I’ve been struggling all week with something that’s only a problem inside my own head.

There’s a stigma against admitting you’re struggling. You might be seen as a saintly example of endurance if you’re facing a physical trial. But in many churches it’s a different story when you’re battling something mental or emotional. So many people see interior struggles as either a lack of faith or something that you could just “get over” if you prayed about it enough. However, there’s a passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul makes it sound like struggles within ourselves are the kinds of battles Christians usually face.

For though we walk in the flesh, we don’t wage war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5, WEB)

Our warfare isn’t primarily a physical battle. It’s a spiritual and internal one that can also spill over into our outer lives. Even when the Adversary uses outside attacks it’s still part of a battle for our minds, hearts and spirits. It’s well past time for Christians to recognize this and start supporting each other through the invisible battles we all face. Read more

One Week To A Better You

My friend Cody is launching a startup business called Affirmations Coffee. Part of that project involves an encouraging blog and a short e-book titled Be Awesome: One Week To A Better You. You can get the e-book by supporting his Kickstarter, along with some other really cool rewards like this mug:

Affirmations Coffee Kickstarter

I’ve been curious about the e-book for a while now, so when Cody asked me to review it for my blog I jumped at the chance. It’s a motivational 30-page devotional with repeatable weekly tasks to help you move forward in life. I spent a week working through the book and writing down something for each day.

Survey Sunday

Sunday’s task is to plan out a schedule for the rest of your week. I’ve been using The Freelance Planner to help keep track of assignments each week, so I spent some time Sunday morning filling out my main goals for the week. Mine is a very different sort of planner than the one recommended in the e-book so my planning took a less detailed form, but it was helpful to actually fill out all the days at the beginning of the week (something I don’t always do). I also spent some time journaling that morning — a habit I’ve been meaning to get back into.

Motivation Monday

E-Book review: One Week To A Better You | marissabaker.wordpress.comMonday’s challenge is to think about what motivates you to achieve your goals. For me, it’s often quotes, scriptures, or songs that resonate with something deep inside.

This might seem odd to non-writers, but for quite some time one of the most motivating things I’ve encountered has been the song “Non-Stop” from Hamilton. That picture on the left is hanging over my desk right now, alongside John Keats’ poem “When I have fears that I may cease to be.” I suppose you could say I’m motivated by the idea that I’m running out of time to write all the stories, articles, and studies overflowing my mind.

Tranquility Tuesday

I already have a morning routine designed to build focus and calm, so Tranquility Tuesday started out with prayer, yoga, breakfast/reading (yes, those go together), and Bible study. We all need to take time for ourselves and I find that’s a good way to start every day if I want to be more productive and engaged.

Wisdom Wednesday

The Wednesday chapter reminds us to actively seek wisdom. As I mentioned before, I start every morning with Bible study so I suppose I could have just left it at that. Because of today’s theme, though, I determined to spend some extra time taking in other peoples’ perspectives, knowledge, and experience. I began reading an Enneagram book because I’ve heard the theory layers well with Myers-Briggs to give more complete pictures of personality. I took some time to read deep-thinking posts from other bloggers. And I read a chapter in Proverbs before bed.

Thankful Thursday

E-Book review: One Week To A Better You | marissabaker.wordpress.com

For today’s focus, I made a list of five things I’m thankful for. It’s not necessarily my top 5 (more like what came to mind first that morning). I’m thankful for

  • The Lord’s love and the fact that He offers us the chance to be friends with Him
  • My blog readers, family, and friends
  • Having the opportunity to dance and to help teach dance at my Messianic Congregation
  • Books. Every single one of the 1,100+ on my shelf, plus others
  • My boyfriend ❤

Fearless Friday

I really didn’t know what to do with this day. The books says to go outside your comfort zone and overcome a fear. But Friday is a whirlwind of article due-dates, blog scheduling, and baking for Shabbat. How’m I supposed to find time to identify a specific fear and conquer it today!? (somewhat ironically, I started feeling anxious just thinking about it.)

One line did resonate with me, though: “Live purposefully, not fearfully.” So my goal for Fearless Friday became not letting the little fears and anxieties that pop-up throughout the day control me.

Sabbath Saturday

Ah, the Sabbath. My favorite day of the week. Most of the day isn’t particularly “restful” for me since I leave at 9:15 to get to my morning church and pretty much go non-stop until getting home from my afternoon church around 5 or 6 that evening, but it’s a wonderful time of learning more about God and fellowshipping with brethren. And the Saturday that I worked through this book, I had a chance to spend some time after church chatting with two friends and my sister at a coffee shop, then come home and spend time with both my siblings.


I enjoyed this e-book’s daily suggestion to take time and focus on connecting with God and exploring an aspect of personal growth. You can get the book and support Cody’s Kickstarter at the same time for just $5. I also highly recommend you follow Cody’s blog and Facebook page. His positive, encouraging focus is something I think many of you would enjoy reading and appreciate seeing in your inbox or Facebook feed.

Once again, here’s the link to his Kickstarter:

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The Incredible Reasons God Gives Us For Not Being Afraid

It’s all well and good to say, “God doesn’t want you to be afraid,” like we did in last week’s post. But that doesn’t actually help much with getting rid of our fear. Even knowing He’s patient with our fearfulness doesn’t take the fear away.

Thankfully, God’s doesn’t just order, “Fear not,” and leave it at that. He offers specific promises that give us tangible reasons not to be afraid. And when we are fearful, those promises can help us overcome to act in faith despite our fears. This past week, I went through the Bible looking for all the reasons God gives for us not being afraid. There are many, but I’ve sorted them into four main categories:

The Incredible Reasons God Gives Us For Not Being Afraid Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo credit: HarveyMade via Lightstock

God Is With You

Before Moses’s death, God inspired Him to share these words with Israel:

Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6, WEB)

The number one reason we have for living without fear is that God Himself is with us. And not just as a church or a group of people. Individuals can also receive this promise, as did Isaac (Gen. 26:24), Joshua (Josh. 1:9), David (Ps. 23:4), Solomon (1 Chr. 28:20), and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:8).

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. (Is. 41:10, WEB)

God promises not to let us down or leave us alone. That means the most powerful being in existence is at your side through everything. He doesn’t leave us to figure things out on our own nor abandon us in our struggles. Read more