The Real Me

rockwell_mirror

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

romans 8-1

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?

Searching

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

Priceless

priceless

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the credit card commercial that went something like this:

Pizza with everyone’s favorite toppings – $30

Board game everyone can agree upon – $20

Quality time with family – PRICELESS

I just love those. It really makes you stop and think about what is important and of value in your life.

I know that as a wife and mother, I couldn’t begin to quantify my love for my husband and children. That’s why this week’s key verse in A Confident Heart study really hit home with me.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36:7, NIV).

God’s unfailing love for each one of us is priceless. The Hebrew word for unfailing love is one of the most important in the Old Testament and central to God’s character. No matter what you and I do, He will always love us because His love does not depend upon our actions. It is everlasting.

Dear friend, not only does God love us, but He likes us and accepts us. You and I can truly be ourselves and not fear rejection.

This principle ties directly into the name of God used in this scripture – Elohim. It refers to God as the creator. Nothing exists by accident. We didn’t come into being by chance. Each and every one of us was fearfully and wonderfully made. God displayed His love and care for us by carefully crafting us, knitting us, together with His loving hands. Never doubt your love and importance to the creator of all.

The last part of the verse talks about taking “refuge in the shadow of your wings.” You and I need to solely put our trust in God because He is our only reliable source of refuge – our strong tower.

I truly believe that if we really grasp the depths of God’s love for each one of us we would live differently. I encourage you to discover by reading, studying and spending time with God a glimpse of how much He truly loves and accepts you this week.

Speaking of priceless, I want to leave you with this song.

When the kids were younger, I can remember hearing their voices sing out this song whenever it came on the radio. Let us curl up and take refuge in the shadow of our Heavenly Father and not lose that child-like faith and love.

Isaiah 49:23

isaiah 49 23

I love going on a trip, whether it is overnight or for an entire week. It is so refreshing to just get away from the every day routine. However, with the joys of vacation also come the realities of laundry and unpacking all the bags after returning.

Having just returned from a trip over fall break with my family, I am well acquainted with unpacking the suitcases. To successfully empty the bag, you must look at each item and determine where it needs to go. The very same idea is utilized when “unpacking” a verse of scripture. To really get the most out of the passage, you can’t simply read it once and move on. Just like my suitcase from vacation, it is necessary to examine the contents.

Today, I will spare you the task of unpacking my families’ bags, but I would like to do some unpacking of Isaiah 49:23b, the key verse for week 1 of A Confident Heart Online Bible Study.

Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed (NIV).

As I read through this verse over the course of the week, three words really jumped off the page at me – know, hope and disappointed.

My wonderful husband gave me a Hebrew-Greek key word study Bible for our anniversary, so I was able to go back to the original Hebrew words and dig deeper into the meaning of this scripture.

  •  Know  – comes from the Hebrew word Yada, which is one of the most important Hebrew roots in the Old Testament. It means to discern, be familiar with, also signifies a person’s relationship with God.
  • Hope – comes from the Hebrew word Miqweh, meaning confidence, hope and expectation.
  • Disappointed  – comes from the Hebrew word Bos. It often occurs in the context of humiliation, disgrace and shattered emotions. There is usually a connotation of guilt.

Armed with these definitions, this verse really comes alive to me. In order for me to know that He is the Lord, I must be familiar with Him. I have to have a personal relationship with God, which requires time and effort on my part.

However, it does not stop with a simple relationship. God follows it up with a promise. Whoever puts her trust or confidence in God will not be disgraced and full of guilt.

It is no accident that Isaiah 49:23b was chosen for the first key verse. This scripture needs to be the foundation, not only for this study, but also for our lives. Everything else needs to build upon this. You see our confidence needs to be in Christ alone and not bogged down by guilt and shame. If we are in Christ, God does not see our past because the blood of Christ has washed us white as snow.

Everything in our lives needs to run through the filter of how God sees us and what He thinks of us. If we rely upon ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. God, on the other hand, promises that those who keep their confidence in Him will not be disappointed.

What about you, where is your hope and confidence today?