The Real Me

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If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? The majority of us would start with our appearance and then maybe include our occupation and marital status. In most cases, it wouldn’t get any deeper than that. However, there are many more components that compose the real you.

For me personally, I struggled in the past with not only poor body image, but also comparing myself to others. I wanted to have the perfect look, because then everything else would fall into place, right? So, I stressed over an extra pound here or a bad hair day there. All the while thinking that if the outside was better then I would be better on the inside. This way of thinking quickly sucked me into the trap of comparing how someone looked on the outside to how I was feeling on the inside.

I love what Renee says about comparing/competing in Chapter 8 of A Confident Heart, “ God never intended for us to compete with each other; He wants us to complete one another, celebrating and encouraging each other’s strengths while discovering who He created us to be” (pg. 137).

I had to come to a point where I saw who I was through God’s eyes – my true identity. God didn’t create flat, one-dimensional people. He gave us spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personalities and experiences, which make each one of us unique.

Each and every one of us has been given spiritual gifts to use for God’s purpose. Think about it like this, I’m certain that if someone gives you a Christmas gift you won’t leave it wrapped and sitting on a shelf or the bottom of your closet. Therefore, you and I need to utilize the gifts God has given to us.

I enjoyed taking the spiritual gifts assessment on Wednesday. If you haven’t taken one before I suggest you spend a few moments to see where your strengths lie. My top three were teaching, faith and exhortation. God has given me these gifts to reach out and shine His light and encourage those around me.

God has also put passions within each one of us. One of mine is to help and lift up those who are broken and hurting. Because of various experiences God has brought me through, I can identify with many hurts and pains.

Besides gifts and passions, we also have various abilities. Some people can sing, paint, lead, speak – you name it. God has blessed me with the ability to write. I first saw this as a possibility when I went through this study through OBS two years ago.

It was at this time I was encouraged to start a blog for the first time. I was so nervous when I hit the publish button the first time, but I chose to use what God had given me and be available to His leading. Since that first post, I have written and published my first book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask, started on my second book and met amazing women through my blog that have touched my heart – all because I chose to use the abilities, gifts, passions and experiences God had created me with for His purpose and plan.

Every pieces of us as individuals may not make sense or be appealing, but combined together you and I are each a living breathing masterpiece from God. You wouldn’t go into a museum and take apart pieces of art thinking you knew better than the artist, so why do we do the same thing with God?

When you and I begin to embrace who God has created us to be, it will lead to confidence.

Your Turn:Who are you? What gifts, passions and abilities has God created in you? Most importantly, what are you going to choose to do with them?

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Condemnation versus Conviction

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The reflection verse for Week 5 of the A Confident Heart Online Bible Study is one that I cling to.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NIV)

It is so easy to fall victim to condemnation, from our self, as well as, others. When condemnation comes against you, let me encourage you to quote this scripture as a word weapon. This verse is so powerful because no matter what you have done or will do, there is no condemnation in Christ. The Holy Spirit will convict us when we have sinned, so that we can repent. Condemnation, on the other hand, comes from ourselves and satan. Therefore we need to remind satan and yourself, that you do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Walking after the flesh is depending on yourself; walking after the Spirit is depending upon God. When we fail, which we all will, that does not mean we are a failure. It simply means that you do not do everything right. We all have to accept the fact that we have strengths along with weaknesses. Let Christ be strong in your weaknesses. Let Him be your strength on your weak days.

Who Am I?

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There were many times in the past that I fell into the notion that I was not good enough – from being excluded in school, to comparing myself to others to my husband leaving me. For this reason, the enemy uses this doubt frequently in attacking me.

As long as I am stuck in that downward spiral, I am not moving forward or following after God’s plan for my life. The enemy can simply set back because I am already discouraged and defeated.

But God doesn’t see any of us as not good enough.

You and I must remember that God has made each one of us unique for His plan and purpose. The world needs us to fulfill that plan. We have to come to a point where we see ourselves as God sees us.

I encourage you to read through some of the great scriptures from Renee Swope’s Confident Heart:

                                      John 1:12

                        2 Timothy 1:7

                            Ephesians 3:12

Your Turn: Who are you? Not whom others say you are, but whom God says you are. I encourage you to let your true identity in Christ shine through to the dark world today.

Resources:     Confident Heart – Renee Swope

Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask – Jamy Whitaker

Bible Gateway

Changing Perspective

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Whether we are focusing on the present, past or future, if our perspective is off, we can turn a small incident into something monumental. We must have God be our focus, so things are in the correct perspective. Sometimes the life lessons we all need to learn are seen in children.

Having kids is an adventure, to say the least. More times than not, they are the ones that end up teaching me. For example, our youngest son, Quintin, came in the other day from playing outside to say that he needed a band-aid. However, when he came over to show me, I could barely even see that there was a scratch. Quintin, on the other hand, could not see anything else, but the hurt. His focus was on the boo-boo and what I might be able to do to make it feel better. Later, that same day, our middle son, Ethan, was working on his math homework and having a difficult time. He just kept saying that he could not do it; it was simply too hard. When Ethan’s focus was on the entire problem, instead of looking at it one step at a time, he could not see that he was ever going to figure it out. His focus was on all the problems he had for homework and not simply taking one step at a time. It is easy in these situations, as a mom, to step back and say, “Boys, this is not really as big of a deal as you are making it.” In these instances, they needed me to help give them perspective on the situation.

It reminds me of a pebble. If we hold it up close to our eye, it is all that we see. However, if we hold it out farther. We can examine it and even classify it. To take it one step farther, if you would throw that same pebble at your feet, then it is seen in its true setting. It becomes just one tiny bump along our journey, instead of being the only thing we can see.

For the longest time, I had a real issue with pain from my past. No matter what the Bible said, I was so focused on my pain, my hurt and my past that I couldn’t see anything else. I couldn’t imagine ever getting beyond this point. In fact, I became so focused on this one circumstance in my life that I was missing out on everything around me. I was turning this pebble into Mount Everest. In fact, I was beginning to be crushed under the weight of my past, feeling like I could not more forward and certainly could not be used by God.

God began to work in and through my life to see that in His eyes sin is sin and Christ died on the cross for all of it. It was the enemy who wanted to keep me trapped in the past – distracted, discouraged and defeated. God lifted me up to see that I was loved, valued, important and needed. The very same thing is true of you dear friend. Don’t let the world lead you to believe anything different. God lovingly created each and every one of you for His purpose and plan.

Therefore, when the past comes to haunt us, it is so easy, just like with the pebble, to be solely focused on the circumstance. Like my sons, who were consumed with their problems, we cannot begin to see anything else. It was all they could see and think about. When this happens, life’s circumstances begin to overwhelm us. However, just like the pebble, we need to throw all of our troubles at our feet. The distance helps to put things back into perspective. God is right there, just like I was for my boys, to help us see things clearer. We simply need to take the focus off of the circumstance and throw it at God’s feet and let Him help us. It is mentioned in First Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (NKJV). God cares for us and wants to, not only help us, but to also put things into perspective. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a situation in your life or pain from the past, take a moment to give it all to God and let Him take care of it all.

How is your perspective today? Are you looking at your circumstances or your Savior?