Discovering Who God Created Us to Be

Woman in hat smiling

Our purpose, infused into our hearts before we took our first breath, is universal and will never change–to know God and make Him known. How we express that purpose, however, is unique to all of us. We’ll never truly feel fulfilled until we discover and live out who Christ created us to be. My guest today, author and blogger Robin E. Mason, shares how this has proven true in her life.

What’s in Your Heart

By Robin E. Mason

“What’s wrong with me?”

I asked God that question more than twenty years ago. I had no sense of purpose or identity.

“Sit down.” I could imagine Him answering me. “This is going to take a while.”

And it did. An emotionally excruciating and physically exhausting three years of counseling. I “happened” to choose that spring to work in the yard. And as I dug up rocks to make way for daisies, I felt like the same thing was happening in my soul; God was digging and uprooting years and layers of lies that had burrowed deep in my heart.

Years, a lifetime really, of hearing “You could have done better,” had translated into nothing I did was good enough. The most staggering statement was, “You’re nothing but a failure.” Even though I knew better intellectually, it didn’t even faze me; it was the summation of what I had accepted all my life.

I grew up believing the Bible was absolute Truth. The Bible says I’m to have an “abundant” life. But mine didn’t fit that at all. I suffered depression, worked at jobs that didn’t satisfy me. Believing lies will do that. And no matter how hard I fought to be “better,” I never was.

I was a single mom and I worked to provide for my children. I did what I had to do. The problem was fighting to measure up to someone else’s standard for me, and not Father God’s design.

In a particular counseling session, my pastor held his hands out, cupped as though he held a grapefruit in each. One hand, he said, was Bible Truth. In the other were the lies I had believed. He put one hand on top of the other; the lies say this. Then he switched hands. But the Bible says. He repeated this a few times, and it registered in my broken mind. That was twenty-three years ago.

Long before I asked that fateful question, Father God had been laying groundwork to bring me to that point of recognizing the disparity between my life and His plan. And I’ve watched in the years since then as He unfolds one mercy after another—so that I like myself now, and I can say without vanity that I’m a pretty cool gal! And fun to be around!

Which brings me to my writing. Stories have always been in my head. But I was pushed in other directions, pressure to be something I’m not—someone else’s ideal of success. The stories were there; I just didn’t know I was meant to write them. But as I was struggling through the anguish of counseling I began writing—almost as a Divine form of therapy.

And for all I’ve put my hands to over the years—the temp assignments, jobs that were just awful, so many I’ve lost count—nothing has “fit” like my writing. Once I got swept up in that first storyline, I knew. This was, and is, and has always been, that desire of my heart. The words. They speak to me. They reach into me. Whether fiction or His Word.

What’s in my heart? Stories that speak to the sense of identity. Stories that help others know who they are, and to embrace and live in that knowledge. Stories that reach into the heart of others, who, like me, don’t know and aren’t living the life God intended.

Take a look inside your heart. What secret dreams are hidden in your there? How can you begin the journey to live in the fullness of Father God’s plan and purpose for you?

Get to Know Robin!

Robin's author photoMs. Mason writes stories of identity conflict. Her characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, her stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”

Ms. Mason has seven novels, Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy, in the unsavory heritage series, and The Long Shadows of Summer, The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, The Silent Song of Winter, and The Whispering Winds of Spring in her Seasons series. All of Ms. Mason’s books are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She is working on a on One for the Price of Two, the first story in her new series, FourSquare, to release next year.

Visit her online HERE.

Check out her new cover of her debut novel, Tessa:

When you pretend to be something you’re not, it always finds you out.

One mother. Two daughters. One favorite. One not.

When Cassie Barclay is presented with an opportunity – or is it a curse – she jumpsCover image for Tessa at the chance. She takes on a new life, her sister’s life, and although at first, it holds appeal and promise, she soon realizes sometimes the fairy tale is tainted.

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Won’t Be Defined

Photo by makunin taken from pixabay.com

Photo by makunin taken from pixabay.com

What if we viewed ourselves through God’s eyes? Imagine the peace we’d have. And what if, maintaining that vision, we then zeroed in on what He was calling us to do, and pursued that with everything within us.

What might we accomplish?

This is something God has been encouraging me to do. If we’re Facebook friends, you likely read my post this morning with the quote from Real Women Leading With Proverbs 31 Values (an awesome book!). I’ll post the quote I pulled from the book here:

Speaking of influencers, the author said, “They are driven to do something that matters. They seek God for what His call is on their lives, and they are focused on what He created them to be.

Focus. Unwavering. Obedient. Surrendered.

Todays post, by a sweet sister in Christ who is pursuing God’s call with everything within her, shares her journey from the beginning of a dream to full pursuit.

GIVE-AWAY ALERT! As a special bonus, Jessica is giving away 3 of her albums. Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and shipping is only available to those living in the continental US.

But first, I want to announce last week’s give-away winner. Jennifer Hallmark, congrats! You won a copy of Cherie Burbach’s latest release, 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends. I’ll message you shortly to chat about getting that to you.

Won’t Be Defined by Singer/Songwriter Jessica Angelique

“I won’t be defined by what other say. I won’t be confined. They won’t get in the way of God’s love and His perfect plan. I won’t be defined in His strength I’ll stand. I won’t be defined.”

-from the title track “Won’t Be Defined” on 14-year-old Jessica Angelique’s album “Won’t be Defined.”

When I was a young girl there was this inner joy inside of me that made me happy. I never could imagine my life without God. I always remember believing in God. In the years before I started school I had no trouble being defined by God and not what others said about me, even through challenges I faced.

I have an eye condition called Duane’s Syndrome and I have trouble seeing and reading. The good news is that it’s hardly noticed, but I still struggle even today to read, but I am overcoming it.

photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net by Ambro

photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net by Ambro

My first few years of school were challenging. I was in Dual Language spending half the day speaking English and the other half speaking Spanish. Halfway through third grade I went to a different school without Dual Language. At my new school, I was bullied at the young age of nine and I had no friends, no hope. I felt alone like an outcast. I was being me, and that wasn’t accepted.

In school you’re supposed to like sports and dance, but I loved to sing and instead took piano and guitar lessons.

When I went into fourth grade I moved schools again because of the extreme bullying. I left the school so I would never have to see that bully again.

I was the new kid again. I felt excluded, but not as bad as at the other school.

When I started middle school in fifth grade, it got a lot easier and I made friends. I felt like the same kid I was before I started school, remembering I’m defined by God and not by what others say. A huge bJessica Angeliqueurden was lifted. I did not have a care in the world– except math class.

I’ve always loved music and singing. When I was very young I would sing songs at the top of my lungs and my brother would scream at me to shut up, but I never did. I always knew I wanted to be a singer, like every other girl in my class. Instead of just daydreaming, I decided to do something about it.

I started doing talent shows and playing for family and friends. Participating in a national talent competition gave me the inspiration to do this for the rest of my life. One day I attended a Christian concert featuring Moriah Peters. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a Christian singer. I started in the Christian music field and I don’t think I could do anything else.

I was encouraged to write songs and then wrote enough to make an album. My dream became a reality. Your dream can too with God’s guidance and with the help of those who nudge you in the right direction.

If I didn’t know God, my life would be hopeless. I’ve just started, and I have a lot more to do to make a difference and inspire people to be defined by God, not by what others say. My goal is to inspire one person at a time, follow God, and see where He takes me.

Like Brandon Heath sings, “He’s not finished with me yet.”

Jessica Vogt_021
14 year old, Jessica Angelique has a God-given gift beyond her years to write music that helps others going through doubts and insecurities, inspiring people to love Jesus and love themselves.
Through her own struggles with bullying she wrote the title track to her debut album,”Won’t Be Defined,” telling the story of a young girl learning that God defines us, not what others say. It’s a story every Mom will want their daughter to embrace.

Visit her online HERE.

Let’s talk about this! First, for those of you who joined me at Reality Church’s Women’s Connection Weekend last weekend, hopefully,  you’ve been prayerfully asking livingbygracepic.jpGod to help you do as Jessica encourages, which is to allow God and God alone to define us. (For those who weren’t able to come, I may be posting all three main sessions online. I’ll let you know…)

In what ways have you allowed others to define you? What inner lies are you clinging to, regarding your identity, and what Scripture can you meditate on and pray to center your heart and mind in God’s truth? Are you pursuing God’s call on your life, and if so how? If not, what’s holding you back? Share your comments here below or on Living by Grace on Facebook.

 

Living With Focus

Photo by jesadaphorn taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by jesadaphorn taken from freedigitalphotos.net

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking back on a busy, tiring day and realizing you’ve accomplished nothing. Or at least, nothing of value. Or to embark on a task, perhaps seven or eight times in a day, only to be distracted, seven or eight times.

We all have those days, right? Times when our lack of focus, lack of prioritizing, eats up our productivity. But we mustn’t let those times of distraction and futility, of wasted effort, become a norm.

We all have countless opportunities set before us each day, sometimes even great opportunities, eternally impacting opportunities, but that doesn’t mean each one is for us. God has carved out a unique path for each one of us. He’s created us, gifted us, molded and equipped us, to fill a very specific role.

I love how Ephesians 2:10 puts it: “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus to do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT).

We are God’s masterpiece! That word grabs me every time. As does the ending of the verse, “He planned for us long ago.”

It reminds me that God has a plan, a very good and very specific plan, for my life. My role is to discover that plan and follow it ps37v23to24jpgwith everything within me, resisting the constant pull to be everything to everyone. Rather, I am to give everything–my time, energy, thoughts, and actions–to the Son.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on that safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil” (NLT).

This verse speaks of determined focus, of perseverance, of intentionality. Of zeroing in on whatever it is Christ is calling me to do each day. Which implies taking the time to discover what He’s calling me to do. Which in turn implies taking the time to prayerfully read His Word each morning.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What about you? What is God calling you to do today? Raise your children or grandchildren to love and honor Christ? Reveal Christ’s love and grace in your work place? Serve in a church ministry with excellence? Are you doing that with focus, perseverance, and intentionality? Are you giving your whole self to that task, or have you allowed nonessentials to leave you divided? What time-sappers have you allowed in your day that hinder your effectiveness? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

We can’t do it all. Each day, we’re going to have to let something go. Let’s let those things go intentionally so that we can “fix our eyes on what lies before us.”

For all the mommas of little ones out there, my friend (and the marketing manager of New Hope Publishers) has a series I know you’ll find encouraging and inspiring. You can read about that here.

You might also be interested in:

Are the Little Things Really Little? 

In the Little Things

Called and Accountable by Henry T. Blackaby and Norman C. Blackaby

Before I go, I wanted to announce the winners of last week’s give away! Maryann, congrats! You won a copy of the Shepherd’s Song! I’ll be contacting you shortly to chat about the best way to get that novel to you. And, there’s still time to enter the drawing to receive a copy of Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s book Praying Upside Down. You can do so here.

Before I go, I wanted to invite you listen to a radio interview I did Tuesday. You can do so here:

I also encourage you to sign up for my (really, our, as I and the Faith, Friends, and Chocolate gals put it out together) free quarterly newsletter, which is packed with great stuff–a serial story, short stories, recipes, devotions, and more!


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What Is Your Identity

We live in a striving, performing, achieving culture and it’s easy to adopt an achievment oriented attitude. When meeting new people, often the first thing they’ll ask is, “What do you do?” For women, our most frequently voiced question is, “What sports do your kids participate in?” We’ve come to define ourselves by the roles we play, but as Christians, aren’t we meant for more?

Notice how Paul identifies himself in Romans 1:1: “Paul a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” (NIV)

 He was a servant of Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

Paul’s identity centered on who he was in Christ and what Christ called him to do.

What about us? Can we say the same thing?

Often we get this flipped, although we’d never admit it verbally, but our actions and how we spend our time reveal our true convictions.

Lord, help me to be your servant. Remind me of my calling to share your love and truth with a hurting world. Set me apart for the things of You, removing in me everything that gets in Your way. May I live out my convictions today, using each moment in a way that glorifies You.

What’s one thing you can do today to demonstrate a commitment to your calling? How can you put feet to your convictions today?

In Light of the Cross

The other day I mentioned the discussion circulating the ACFW course loop. I found Carrie Lewis’s response quite impactful so I asked her to share with you all today.

We like to compartmentalize our life, don’t we? Church Sunday and Wednesday. Check. Work Monday through Friday. Evenings family time. Saturdays, me time. And we certainly like to remain in our comfort zone, ready with our “But I’m not gifted in that area” excuse when needs arise. But Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (NIV)

In view of God’s mercy, as you remember and contemplate the great sacrifice God made for you, as you remember the intense suffering of Christ, offer your body–the body He created and redeemed, back to Him, the giver of all life.

1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us we were bought at a price and in Romans 1:1 Paul calls himself a bondservant to Christ. I am completing a five part series on Joseph for Christ to the Word Ministries and in my latest assignment, evaluated Joseph’s life in its totally, from his perspective, seated as second in command in all of Egypt. (I’ll link to the entire series once it is edited and available.) Why did God allow him to endure slavery for so long? I believe it was to teach him to be a servant. Slaves have no rights nor expectations but instead, are constantly watching their Master, ready to do whatever necessary that they might one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

As you read Carrie’s testimony of what she believes it means to give your life to Christ, remember the price at which you were purchased. Then ask yourself, how great is your gratitude and love, and how will that love and gratitude reveal itself in your day to day living?

* * *

There has been a lot of talk among a few of my friends about the difference between spiritual calling and spiritual offerings.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definitions of those two words are:

Calling: 1 : a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work (such as religious work) ▪ <i>He had always felt a calling to help others. ▪ He experienced a calling to enter the priesthood.  ▪ For Mary, teaching wasn’t a job, it was a calling. </i> [=vocation]
2 : the work that a person does or should be doing ▪ <i>She discovered architecture as her true calling [=vocation] while in college. ▪ He feels he missed his calling [=did not have the career he should have] by not becoming a doctor.</i>

Offering:  1 a : something that is given to God or a god as a part of religious worship ▪ ceremonial/sacrificial offerings b : an act of giving a religious offering ▪ <i>Each household must make daily offerings to the gods.</i>
2 : something that is available for sale or use ▪ The company is trying to generate interest in its new offerings. ▪ the café’s tasty dessert offering.

By those definitions, it’s easy to see a difference.

I don’t dispute the differences.

I do wonder, though, if all the talk has been much ado about semantics.

Personally, I don’t see much difference between the affect of being called and of giving offerings. When it comes to the Christian life and my view of what that is, it seems like a distinction without much difference.

Perhaps the reason is this:

I view the entire Christian life as my calling. Everything. Writing, painting, public worship, private worship, laundry, housework, grocery shopping… cleaning the toilet or the litter box. Every part of my life and everything I do should be an offering – a sweet savor – to God. I don’t have a part of my life or work that’s Christian and a part that’s set aside from Christianity.

I’ve been given the talent to write, so it’s my obligation to make the most of that talent. I can say to God, “Gee, thanks, but no thanks!” but that’s not going to carry much weight when I stand at the judgment bar and look God in the face. What makes me so certain of that?

Christ spoke of it in one of His parables. Remember the servants given talents to manage while the business owner traveled? Each servant received a different amount of money to manage with the instruction to use it wisely and give report when the business owner returned.

Two of the servants increased their holdings with wise handling. The remaining servant received only one talent, but buried it in the ground and returned it to the business owner upon that man’s return. He was not praised for his caution.

God gave me a talent or two, He expects me to use them. I will be held accountable for how I manage those talents.

How does that affect the way I look at being called and giving an offering? Just this way.

I believe writing (and painting) are my calling by virtue of the fact that I was endowed with a talent for each, the ability to enjoy the work and to feel satisfaction even when it’s hard, and opportunities to hone each skill, to learn, and to grow. With painting, to provide a revenue stream for the household provision.

The stories I write or the paintings I paint are offerings, but I consider the time I spend in those endeavors to also be offerings that supplement or support the larger calling.

And each of those two talents (and other talents I may have been given) are all part of the even larger calling of living for Christ and representing Him in everything I do, large or small and whether or not it’s directly related to each of those talents.

* * *

Carrie L. Lewis is a freelance writer living with her husband in Newton, Kansas. Credits include writing for the Clare County Review newspaper (Clare, Michigan), editorial writing (The Newton Kansan, Newton, Kansas), maintaining three personal blogs and a web site and compiling and writing annual devotionals within her church family. Carrie also writes fiction and has finished six manuscripts to date.

She has been writing stories since the eighth grade, turning what began as personal enjoyment into a pursuit for publication. She has enjoyed giving problems to characters, then helping them solve those problems through six completed manuscripts and is currently working on a seventh. Credits include writing for the Clare County Review newspaper (Clare, Michigan), editorial writing (The Newton Kansan, Newton, Kansas), maintaining three personal blogs and a web site and compiling and writing annual devotionals within her church family. She lives in Newton, Kansas with her husband and two cats.

Find out more about her, her writing, and her painting at:

 http://www.carrie-lewis.com

http://horse-paintings-in-oil.carrie-lewis.com

http://writing-well.carrie-lewis.com

 As you prepare for this holy weekend, spend a moment listening to the words of this song and ask God to search and unveil the deepest recesses in your heart removing whatever hinders you from following after Him in full surrender.