Hello! My name is Courtney Ivaska and I am the contributing writer for Say Yes: With All Your Mind for the Fall Intro issue of The Grace Mask Journal. My family consists of rock stars. I have tw
o sisters, one older and one younger, which means I am the good stuff of the oreo. 😉 My mom and dad are the hardest working people that I know, and I am not just saying that because they are my family. Their ministry is an “open-door” policy which means that anyone who needs help is welcome in our home. My mom and dad are humble, God-fearing, absolutely hilarious, and generous. My two si
sters, Bethany and Sarah are my best friends. If it were not for their love, kindness, and gentle spirits I don’t know where I’d be. They are my anchors and I truly love them with all my heart. Bethany shows me what it is like to lead with conviction through the most dreadful of times. Sarah shows me that what a servant of God looks like. Time and time again my family has shown me forgiveness and how to succeed.
Jesus has made me whole by restoring my identity. The moment, I say moment but it took about four months for me to understand, that I realized what it looks like to actively be saved everyday is when my world changed. I believe that when you ask Jesus into your heart one time, He is there forever. But I also believe that He saves me every day because I am not perfect. In my life, this looks like prayer all the time through my day. Prayer is just a conversation with God and it’s not because He needs to hear us, we need to hear Him. A constant talking to God in my heart, and out loud when I really need to get things off my chest, is having the God who created the universe involved in my blip of a life because I want to, not because I have to. When I opened my heart to having God in my normal, sometimes bland, everyday life I began to understand who I am. When I became confident in who I am I became confident of my God allowing me to not be embarrassed or ashamed. I thought God was an old man sitting right above heaven waiting for me to mess up, but that image is completely false. You can’t really put a face or an image to God, but having a relationship with Him is like getting to know a really good friend, a father, a dad. The whole thing is quite exciting actually; he tells me who I am.
His Words Evoking Beauty:
There was a time where I was living for the approval of men. I did not approve of my figure, my personality, even my laugh. Everything about me I did not like. Since I did not approve of me, I was determined to find someone else who did. Finding sin isn’t that hard, let me tell you. The enemy is always jabbing at your weaknesses to pull you away from God. He does this by invading your personal space. Those thoughts I had about myself were actually the enemy speaking death over me by telling me lies about my identity. God made me exactly the way He planned on making me, and Satan does not like that. Satan honestly wants to destroy anything beautiful of Christ’s. I fell into that trap. You might have been or are currently in your deep, dark, trap. Mine was an abusive relationship that I stayed in because I thought he loved me. What a lie! A man who loves you loves God, and certainly does not lay a malicious finger on you. This relationship did not happen over night and my healing didn’t either. Sin slowly twists your beliefs, thought processes, and actions. I began to believe that church was a chore and the people who attended were perfect, not sinners like me. Through my time of healing, I began to realize that the church is His people. A big group of sinners that chose Jesus because they saw their trap and needed to be rescued.
Bring Out the Best:
The best in me is Christ. I understand that there are multiple parts to who I am. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 describes a person with three layers- body, soul, and spirit. The outer layer is body, which is what I look like and how God created me, the most outward part of man. The second layer is the soul of that outward most part. It is what makes me, me – where my desires originate. The last layer, I should say core, is my spirit. This is where my identity as a heavenly being experiencing a human life comes into play. Christ in me, my most inner part is in harmony with my soul. Together my desires are lining up with God in me because Christ is the focus. My favorite part about the church is am surrounded by people of different walks of life. Some just said yes to Jesus, others are still learning what that means, while there are also people who have lived in their identity in Christ for a very long time. I love the church because it is not the building. The building is the house of the Lord while the church is His people.