“For Courage”

I have a folder in the lefthand drawer of my writing desk, and its contents have grown exponentially over the past few months. Every time I find a new quote, poem or article that inspires and encourages me, it goes in the folder. Some of these bits and pieces are selections I’ve had for years; others are brand-new. I thought I’d share a few of these with my readers, especially since a lot of us are either getting back to school or (in my case) getting ready for new projects, schedules, and stages of life as summer winds down.

My mom recently sent me an article that referenced Jeremiah 17:7-8, and it went so well with the purpose for this folder that I decided to include it on the front cover:

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes for its leaves shall stay green. In the year of drought it is not anxious, for it does not cease to bear fruit.

First of all, I have these two quotes from two of my greatest heroes (*wink*)…

…and a poster from World War II reminding me of the strength and perseverance of my foremothers.

As we’ve grown up, my parents have given all of us kids a copy of this reference sheet from Bill and Annabel Gillham’s ministry. When I’m assailed by thoughts of despair and self-loathing, I know I can always go back to these Scripture references. They remind me of who I truly am in Christ, and show me how those horrible thoughts of mine don’t reflect the way God feels about me at all! (You can find part of this list here, at the Gillhams’ son’s blog.)   

(*cue horrified gasps from my fellow Protestants*)

I know, this is from someone with whom I don’t even share the same Christian tradition–and yet these words are packed full of truth, are they not? They stirred something deep within me when I first read them, and they reflect the strange and wonderful ways I’ve seen Christ working in my heart and wooing me over the past year. “Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide…Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.

Wendell Berry’s defiance of our modern restlessness and insanity is always a breath of fresh air. I’m not sure where he stands spiritually, but his insights are marvelous–and this particular poem offers wise instructions for those who, even if the whole world is telling them to move, know it is their duty to plant themselves like a tree and say, “No, you move.”

(Snickerdoodles for everyone who understood that reference.)

As I delve deeper into the idea of the sacramental life–the idea that every area of life is a sacred gift of God and under Christ’s Lordship–I find myself with an intense awareness of the beauty God Himself infused into this world. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem Aurora Leigh contains this remarkable section about how, if we quiet our souls enough, we are equipped to perceive all the ways in which God reflects His glory and His design in the entirety of His creation.

With Bach’s Resolve

My mom shared this article from Sarah Clarkson with me all the way back in 2012–long before I knew what an influence Sarah and her sister Joy would have on me in the coming years! I was just starting out on my own adventure into novel-writing back in 2012 (and those first adventures will remain my “trunked” novels, haha) and Sarah’s intensely relatable struggles and her bravery inspired me even then: “…[It] was beauty that made me choose to be a writer. The truth I knew in story and song, the wonder sparked by earth and art, the love I found when I least deserved it, the way my grief was met by hope I never expected. In my tiny way, I was witness to something sacred, something that could add to the healing of the world instead of its hurt.”

Catechisms of the Imagination

This article from N.D. Wilson is another one I’ve had in my arsenal since at least 2013. “We should want to raise children,” he writes, “with the ability to resist an author and a narrative, to laugh, criticize, and dismiss folly, no matter how hard a storyteller might be working to feed them falsehood. But the first step is to establish their tastes in truth with stories that will root their instincts and loyalties in goodness and beauty.” While I sometimes get irritated with his snark in some of his other writings, I think he’s particularly good in this piece. It has long-informed my own personal philosophy on Story.

What are some of the quotes, verses, poems, and words of wisdom you live by? Share them in the comments, and I may add them to my “For Courage” folder!

12 thoughts on ““For Courage”

  1. Hello, I’m here to claim my snickerdoodle 😂

    Thanks for sharing these pieces from your folder, Maribeth!! Keeping one like that is an excellent idea (one that I may steal from you very soon… I have so many notes on my phone and old iPod full of quotes and verses that I found inspiring and encouraging, and I’ve got a Pinterest board packed with them, but actually having a file made of solid, hold-in-your-hand paper seems like an excellent idea).

    One of my favorite verses ever is 2 Timothy 1:7. In fact, I just “handlettered” it in my new sketchbook the other day as a reminder to be bold in whatever new situations God may send me into in the coming year.
    And of course, I’m always finding places to fit in the “Always try to be nice, never fail to be kind” quote. 😉
    I also love the LOTR poem that I pulled the name of my blog from – “Above all Shadows rides the Sun, and Stars forever dwell; I will not say the Day is Done, Nor bid the Stars Farewell” always leaves me feeling peaceful, but resolute. Same with Sam’s speech about the passing of darkness.
    Honestly there are a lot of passages from Tolkien, not to mention Lewis, that I love and find myself coming back to. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (*dispenses snickerdoodles*) Bravo, my dear Shay 😉

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the selections! I appreciate having hard copies of these things; the physicality of actually laying my hands on a sheet of paper and reading these things slowly really helps them seep into my mind and heart. 2 Timothy 1:7 is one of my mom’s favorite verses–such a good one! I really love the Amplified Bible’s translation:

      “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

      (I really love highlighting a verse in my Bible App and then seeing what all the different translations say; it’s a great way to get all the various nuances within the text!)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ready for LOTS of quotes? 🙂

    Eucatastrophe is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of catastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world poignant as grief. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    Fairy tales. . . are not responsible for producing in children fear. . . fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. ~ G.K. Chesterton

    Someday I will rise up like the sun in the morning – someday I will shine like the saints who watch from cathedral windows. I know this, not because of any evidence I have produced of myself, but because of the witness of His scriptures, because of the evidence of His grace, and because of the testimony of this sky that washes over me at dusk. ~ Rich Mullins

    If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in “the High Countries.” ~ C.S. Lewis

    Make the best thing you can, and love it as hard as you can, and let it go loose in the world, and watch what happens . . . Let it be beautiful and adventurous and even terrifying. Let it go free. Don’t be afraid. ~ Jennifer Trafton

    To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip your enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodes and drain our blood, we are unvanquished. Our goal was never to live; our goal is to love. It is the goal of all truly noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even life itself. ~ N.D. Wilson

    I’ll never tell you that there aren’t monsters out there. And I can’t promise you’ll always be safe from them. This is what I can tell you. . . .There are things out there that are worth braving the monsters for. ~ Adam Shaughnessy

    Walk. . . the boneyard path, following in the steps of the one Mortal from whom even the Reaper fled in fear. That path runs between headstones, down through the lightless cold of lonely loss, through the dark valleys where death was borne down to the black soul river and the final battle line. Only love can set a man’s feet on such a path. Only love can see him through, into rest and the hot light of the sun. ~ N.D. Wilson


    1. Oh my goodness…these are so rich and powerful. The Rich Mullins quote alone produced a very real lump in my throat! And I really needed the Jennifer Trafton quote; come Monday I’ll be working in earnest on a new novel for the first time in three years, and I need all the determination to slay the Inner Editor that I can get. Thank you so much for sending these in; I’m printing them out right now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved reading your collection; thank you for sharing with us! 🙂 I used to collect quotes on courage and faith (and should start that up again). These were some of them:

    “Courage comes through suffering.” – A fortune cookie. I love this one because it reminds me God can use hardship for good, like he did for Joseph.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

    “Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.” – Joseph Conrad

    “The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.” – Charles Spurgeon

    “Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him.” – Søren Kierkegaard


    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! And thank you so much for sharing your favorite quotes as well. I love that one from Charles Spurgeon; as God’s children we don’t have to live in terror of him, but a little healthy fear (a balanced mix of awe, respect, and a desire to do nothing that displeases him) can do wonders for us!


  4. This is so good. I loved reading this. I need to make one of these for myself! And I loved the quote from Pope Benedict – it’s so true and so rich. I love the idea of not being afraid of Jesus taking anything away from you. We’re most stingy with our emotions. But he gives us everything. Our emotions and our soul are not in danger of being taken away when Jesus comes in – they’re in danger of being multiplied and expanded to the full. Oh, I love it so much. And lol, I loved how you said “(*cue horrified gasps from my fellow Protestants*)!” I started laughing. Reminds me of that post I wrote about St. Paul’s…
    Emily 🙂


    1. Ooh, I like that word choice of yours: “stingy.” That’s the word I’ve been looking for as I try to explain what’s been going on in my heart over the past year! Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was a very young child, I think I’ve always been “stingy” with my emotions when it comes to my relationship with Christ. Maybe it’s because my first church experience was in a borderline charismatic church, and being a more introverted, reserved person I was intimidated by the high levels of emotion during some of the worship services. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I’ve always been stuck in my head–and when my emotions were involved, they were oftentimes wildly despairing and self-loathing (in other words, focused on myself). But I’m so delighted to say that that’s finally changing: Christ is revealing Himself to me “in ten thousand places” as my greatest Hero and the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty–and when your heart and your imagination are on fire with those truths, it’s a lot harder to be afraid of giving Him everything!

      (*giggle*) You and I are going to be the scandalous bloggers, I think 😉 That post of yours about St. Paul’s was so wonderful, I’m going to share the link right here. But seriously: we disagree with the Catholic Church on many, many things–no doubt about that–and yet there are so many Catholics who I either know personally or who have influenced the Christian Church as a whole in wonderful ways over the centuries. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing truth that happens to come from a Catholic source. In fact, I think there’s a lot we modern Protestants could learn from the Catholics about the importance of reverence in worship and the sanctity of life–not just in the context of abortion/pro-life issues, but in every area of life!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen to that! My mind seems to be just firing off lately with enthusiasm for Christ, and when He finally has possession of my soul and my emotions and I let go of my own “self-thoughts” as you put it, I can see Him clearly in everything. I loved reading your comment. Such good truths to dwell on. And yes! We shall prove scandalous bloggers! It’s so true, though. We have so many differences with Catholics, but oh so many similarities. We can learn so much from them. One of my favorite heroes of the faith is Mother Theresa, and she was Catholic. I firmly believe that “all truth is God’s truth,” so if I am wiser from discussions with a Catholic, or even a Hindu like Gandhi, then God be praised for teaching me truth. Naturally, I don’t mean their religion, but I mean truths we share that bring me closer to Christ and conform to the Bible’s teaching. I’m in complete agreement: there’s nothing wrong with sharing truth that comes from a Catholic source. We can learn so much from them. Especially, as I wrote about, regarding the reverence of worship and the holiness of God. And certainly the sanctity of life as you pointed out.
        Love these discussions, Maribeth! Thanks for always bringing such interesting topics to your blog. I always love reading your posts 😉
        Emily 🙂


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