Purposeful Faith

Tag - identity

Good News for All of Us Who Feel Like Outsiders

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Outsider.

I let this term define me for far too long. As a teenager, I always felt on the outside of the popular crowd at school. When I became a young adult, shyness and nerves prevented me from venturing out and making new friends.

When we wear a label long enough, it becomes comfortable. It’s like a thick skin of protection and we start to like it. Even when our circumstances change and our beliefs about life and eternity are rocked, those names we give ourselves are hard to get rid of. They stick like residue, not wanting to come off.

After becoming a follower of Christ, I received new names.

Daughter. Beloved. Child of the one true God. It all sounded wonderful and good and intriguing. But I still felt like an outsider. I fought to grasp something that seemed perpetually out of my reach. If I could only grab hold of it, I would truly be free.

What whatever it was, it continued to elude me. Like a drive through the heavy fog that obscures our mountaintop in the morning, my vision was obscured. I kept striving and wanting something more.

One morning I was in the thick of a women’s Bible study, and the author was talking about anger. She asked the reader to list the things she thought she was entitled to. Her rights. And I’m not talking about our rights as citizens of a country, but the things we think we deserve because we walk this planet.

At first, I struggled through it.

“I’m not an angry person,” I reasoned. I love others.

“But do you feel loved in return?”

It was a gentle question. A nudge in my spirit. If I’d rushed ahead to the next activity, I would’ve missed it.

The longer I sat in the quietness of a Father’s compassion, the more I realized what I chased.

I ran after ways I thought I deserved to be loved by others, but wasn’t. I longed to be understood and truly seen, but felt often felt lacking in both.

Friends, we can learn others’ love language and go to endless relationship experts and counselors. But in the end, there’s only One who will love us the way we truly desire.

Our feelings will change with the weather, but his love is constant and unwavering.

He’s the One who created us. The One who knows us inside and out, who can see our thoughts before we form them.

We are never outside his love. He invites us inside, to feel the closeness of his Spirit and the breath of his adoration.

“In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” Ephesians‬ ‭1:4,5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We are inside his eternal family.

We are in the depths of his unconditional love.

He drenches us with his endless, undeserved grace.

When I spend time in his presence, I realize I’m loved in ways I dare to dream about. The more I grow to know him, the more I see that I’m not an outsider.

And neither are you.

In Him we belong. In Him, we are complete.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

 

Making Lists About God Will Change You

Post By: Angela Parlin

I read the Bible, looking for what it said about me.

Specifically, what did I need to DO—or not do? These are the things I wrote down. These are the things I prayed about and thought about. Then I wandered off to live my life each day. But I missed so much of the great, big, beautiful point of Scripture. The LORD.

I missed knowing Him more and growing in relationship with Him.

In a lot of ways, I was just doing religion.

It makes sense, because I’ve always wanted to get it all right. I don’t ever want to find myself in trouble. Getting in trouble never made sense to me. Just tell me all the rules and standards and expectations, and I’ll go to great lengths to follow them.

So I read the Bible like a rulebook. A guide for getting my life right. A tool to keep me from anyone’s disappointment.

By trying to avoid mistakes, I missed the glory and majesty of God Almighty.

But for several years now, I approach God and His Word in a different way, and it has changed me.

One day I realized I’d been reading the Bible as if it was a book about me–rather than a book about God. The light went on, and I started to come to these pages with a different mindset.

In her book, Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin says, “The Bible is a book that boldly and clearly reveals who God is on every page.” (Page 23)

The Bible is a book about God. We all know that, but do we come to it, looking for God? I mean looking just for HIM, not for what we need from Him. Not for answers. Not for Do’s and Don’ts or explanations about ourselves. We find those there, but we find so much more if we come to the Bible looking for the Lord.

So now I make lists about God.

As I read through any book of the Bible, I write down each day what the text tells me about Him. When I pray, most days I start by telling God who His Word says He is. I often refer back to my lists. I worship Him with the ancient words of Scripture, ascribing to Him the glory due His name.

In worshiping God this way, I also benefit from reminding myself again and again who God is. Somehow, I no longer need to be told so often who I am.

Making lists about God {from Scripture} will change you.

It will change the way you think of God, the way you see Him, and how you relate to Him. It will change the way you think of yourself.

More than anything, it will fill your mind and heart with the truth about God. You won’t want to miss another opportunity to see Him.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Isaiah 6:3b, NLT

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

When You Hate Who You Are

hate who you are

“The girl who smells” & needs to learn what deodorant is.
“The girl with the budding boobs” no one else has.
“The girl who can’t read” and is behind.
“The girl who is selfish” and shouldn’t speak.
“The girl who doesn’t really know what she is saying” and needs direction.
“The girl with too loud a voice” who needs to kneel on some hard floor in front of Mary to figure things out.
“The girl that is not like us.”

What has the world named you?

As I enjoyed lunch with a friend, I mentioned an old prayer partner, “She called me intense,” I said.  “I am no longer offended at these crippling words,” I told her, “I am healed.

Internally, I nodded. Yes, I agreed with that. I am over it. I really am. I’ve wiped my hands clean of that word.

She looked at me and said, “Yes, you know your book is intense too.”

My book?
The thing that is coming out January 2017?
That thing I poured my heart, soul and sweat into, along with the power of 3 coffees a day?
That thing?in the process of lining things up perfectly, are you missing the One who is perfect- (3)

I thought in my bed that night about it. “Intense? No one likes intense. They like funny, they like frilly and they like fanciful, but no one in their right mind like a book to be – intense. People flee from the intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. They’ll flee me too.”

I got up from bed. I dictionary.com’d it:

intense  [in-tens]

1. acute, strong, or vehement, as sensations, feelings, or emotions: intense anger.
2. of an extreme kind; very great, as in strength, keenness, severity

I was “this”? The kids started mocking again.

I wanted to hate the book in that moment. I wanted to rip it up and speak “loser” over it with loud and forceful declarations – heck, with intensity, with severity and vehement force! I wanted to get all mean all over it.

Do you hate who you are too?

The uncommon, unusable and unrepairable things about you?

But, what if?

What if rather than hiding,
we zipped off people’s demands
to see us, as we are,
how God made us?

I considered this, with the help of some wise counselors.

The world has funny,
but could the world need intensity?

Might God want to create an acute force
that reverberates Jesus?

Do severe times call for more solid
and straightforward messages?

Don't Like Yourself

My husband reframed the words spoken over me. “Kelly, you are bold,” he said.

What if, rather than fearing what others hate,
I unleashed the raw potential of who God made me to be?

What if you did too?

Imagine what all of us, fully believing in God’s good, could do.
Imagine where we could go, if we no longer held back.
Imagine the face of this world, with people unafraid to step into God’s purpose.

For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph. 2:10

Each unique characteristic has a unique purpose
on the board game of God’s master plan.

What if we believed that?

Don't Like Myself

What if we let go of fear? And made our darkness bright.
What if we shared God’s good in us? And found we were the missing piece.
What if we stepped in? And Jesus’ power exploded.
What if we’ve been missing out?

When we hold back our true-self, we hold back Christ.

We show a limping Christianity, yet, Jesus wants to show a thriving one. One where He walks on out into the world, not limping, but striding in trust, light and hope.

When we reach into the deep and hate what we see, we embrace the world’s hate for anything that looks different from its likeness.  Yet, when we reach into our deep and believe, with God, “It is good (Gen. 1:31),” something shifts. Something unhooks – and peace falls.

Might God be calling you to unhook the lies?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:19

Might you see yourself differently?
Known? Loved? Knit as you are for good reason?

Perhaps today, you see yourself reframed and renamed – as His.
A new creation, his original masterpiece, unlike anything else.
An image flowing, moving and working, much like the image of Christ.

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The Question: It Will Bring Life Or Hold You Back

Brings life

I know what you all would say. I am blessed. I got invited as guest on Proverbs 31’s “Compel Conversation”.

You may say, “What is the issue, Kelly? This sounds like a good thing.”

It is. I agree, except for this likely question: “Tell us a little bit about yourself…”

What “little bit” does anyone even care about? Who am I?

Am I the middle schooler who won the Junior Olympics bronze medal for race-walking (yes, it’s as duckish and as funny-looking as it sounds)?

Am I the caffeinated and domesticated house-cleaner, laundry-pusher and child-rearer who works tirelessly to keep the house moving?

Am I the secret vagabond woman who loves to pack up all her goods and travel to some new and foreign land that she hasn’t traversed? After all, I am taping up brown cardboard yet again…

Am I the woman who hides in the bathroom when life gets tough and kids become screamers?

Am I fighter woman, the one constantly trying to keep one hand on God as my feet side-step this world detonating with traps?

Who am I? Who are you, really?

How do we sum up the 78 organs that make up “woman” when they are constantly changing? Growing. Shrinking. Aging. Becoming. Dying.

Untitled design (30)
And why is there this demand that we know?

Will we ever know?

Because I don’t. And, I don’t know if I ever will. And perhaps this is the point. Perhaps we won’t really know our place in home, until we really arrive at home. Perhaps, we won’t see our tailor-made and perfected job in God’s kingdom until we walk right up to the gates – and pull them open – and walk right in.

Then, we will see…

Then, we won’t share a “little bit,” but we will radiate in “the everything” God made us to be.

Does all of this transcend to the here and now?

Untitled design (31)

When do you feel alive?

When I stand in Christ’s love, 
I become more aware that who I am is – one – made to love & be loved.

I see:
It is not who we are, but whose we are.

I am not scabbed, but healed by truth.
It’s not about me, but about how God sees me.
It is about where he wants to go…

this is when I come alive.

Untitled design (32)

Perhaps, all these little moments – with God – they force the true out from the cracks.

The heaviness of me…
can’t stop the new growth of God.
It is not restrained by the weight of life… 

Untitled design (33)

A woman made in the image of Jesus.
A woman walking with his being in her.
A woman pursuing the dream of his cause.
A woman existing in his truth.
A woman fighting against her desires to win and succeed and – to walk all over people.
A woman looking to get untied, so she can rely on him.
A woman falling on her face, but getting back up again.
A woman healed from things that could have killed her.

This is a little bit about Kelly: A woman twirling in love. A woman listening to the Spirit’s leading. A woman always anticipating more doses of God’s best.

Who are you?

What heaviness is tying you down?

What might God’s love want to push out from within you?

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Define • er • ed •ism•able •est •ly

By Jami Amerine

This is my word. Defineredismableestly. Granted, I made it up. And granted, it is slightly ridiculous.  But let me explain. I am at a crossroad; another adoption, another child launching, a new career in the making.  We all come to them, repeatedly.  For example, when I got married. I was no longer only defined as Don and Glenna’s daughter, I was now Justin’s wife. Later I became Maggie, John, Luke, Sophie, Sam, and Charlie’s mom. Grad student, blogger, Catholic, displaced Catholic, Spin instructor, injured Spin instructor, Chronically ill. Then, I became a foster mom and adoptive mom.  I have been defined, redefined and undefined.  I have added prefixes, suffixes and then, deleted and added again.

A woman on Twitter started following me the other day.  I clicked on her profile to see who she was and this is what it said: Overweight, widowed, divorced, childless, unhappy, atheist. Working as a secretary for an arrogant windbag attorney. Living in a cramped apartment with a grumpy cat, two fish, and my dying mother.  Follow me. 

Hmm.

Click.

Follow.

Cause I respect the honesty, and I commit to pray for her.

I haven’t heard much else out of her. Although every time I get on Twitter I click on her profile to see if any of her adjectives have changed.  They haven’t. Aside from some funny cat memes and derogatory comments about Christians, these definitions are all that I am left with in my assessment. And I could pity or judge her, but she could pity and judge me.  And if I was asked to write a profile for myself similar to hers what would it look like? What defines me?

Simply stated?  Tall, busty, married, blonde, 7 kids at the moment, happily seeking Jesus Christ. Stay at home mom, author, in love with my husband. Living in a large home with large family, two dogs, lots of laughter. Follow me.

And it does sound a bit more fanciful and bright. Well, I would have rather typed tall and rail thin, but that’s not the point.  The point is the definitions we take on and the definitions we portray as truths of ourselves can both explain us or cripple us.  And I wouldn’t want to represent myself to the masses as a complete failure or mess, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that and preface or conclude with “Christ-seeker.”

There is both the societal and self-imposed assumption that I am better than or whole if I am a follower of Christ. And as Christians, we believe our souls are better off – as human beings we know the definition of Christian doesn’t crown us the definition “flawless.”

So maybe I followed this brutally honest and seemingly dark woman because I envied her rawness. And, I want to be frank, and raw.  I recently ripped the Jesus fish off my van. Not to deny my Christ, but because I am a distracted driver and you can’t judge a Christian by their inability to maneuver a 12 passenger van.  I honestly don’t want to portray Christians as lousy drivers.

The things that adorn my profile or my biography on my blog are definitions of the human Jami. The feathers in my cap or the bumper stickers on my van don’t convey the profound truths of what it means to be wholly seeking Jesus. At first glance, you might define me as funny, lighthearted, sweet, fanciful, vain, and bouncy. From inside my head I am a one-woman circus – desperately seeking Jesus.

And that is the most relevant definition of being me.  My general identity can be found in excerpts on websites. My husband and children could give you a quick run-down of singular adjectives that would give you a universal idea of who I am.  My parents and my siblings have an adjective or two. I have friends who think I rock. I have enemies that think otherwise. And I get down and can rip myself to shreds. Or, I can drop a couple pounds, get a syndicated post, and make a perfect pot roast and think I am the “grandiestly” momma on the block.

But all that fades without my Jesus.  What I must remember and what I must cling to is my identity in Christ.  This character never changes. No matter the number of children under my roof, the size tag on my jeans, the rejection letters in my inbox, for that matter, the acceptance letters either. My identity in Christ is an unchanging description. I strive to be better, and I ache to please Him – and He consistently loves a fearless, grand, unending, boundless, undefinable, indescribable perfect love.

He sees me as infinitely – HIS.  Maybe that is what I’ll change my Twitter profile to read, just: HIS.

For in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 

And in Christ, you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Col. 2:9-10

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Who You Are In the Light

identity who you are in the light

Post By: Angela Parlin

Do you know who you really are?

A friend told me recently that her Mom used to have her stand in front of the mirror and recite truths about who God says she is. Isn’t that great? I’ll save it in my parenting toolbox, but the truth is, I’ve needed it myself.

Not long ago, I knew certain facts regarding who God says I am—but I didn’t feel like they were true.

Have you been there?

There’s an identity crisis, within the church. It begins with our understanding of God, and our understanding of who we are in light of Him.

We can name details about God, but do we really know Him?

And if we don’t KNOW the God who created us,
then how do we know our own selves?

I grew up in the church, so I learned numerous truths about God and about myself through the years. I also live in a world where I heard an abundance of lies about us both. There were those labels people gave me, those labels I gave myself, and the experiences that told me things I couldn’t forget.

But more often, I was oblivious to what was going on around me. The world and the devil did their thing, and I failed to see the false and fiery arrows shot my way.

While my foundation was forming,
the enemy worked to confuse my identity.

I didn’t know deep down in my heart who I really was–because of Jesus Christ. I didn’t live confidently out of the truth.

When you don’t have a firm grasp on who you are in God’s eyes (your identity in Christ)—
start with who God is.

Find Him in the quiet. Seek Him through His Word. Get to know Him more.

Meditate on who God is. Focus on who He says you are.

Look to the Word–not to the world–for daily affirmations.

Let Him change your view of Him and your view of you.

Let Him set you free from the lies that hold you down.

In time, God will transform your mind completely, giving you a whole new view.

You will understand who God is and who you are in light of Him.

May these scriptures be a starting place, pointing the way to the truth.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. Psalm 28:7

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

Before I was born, the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb He has spoken my name. Isaiah 49:1b

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16:13a

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is Dan’s wife and Mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her each week at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

 

You Are Welcome Here

Come As You Are by Katie M Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Have you ever tried on a dress that was just not your style—ill-fitted for the shape God gave you?

I have been “blessed” with a pear shape figure, smaller on top and curvy on bottom; literally.

Straight, fitted dresses are a death sentence for my body type. I need extra material down south to cover the bulk.

Last week I tried to wear a style that was not flattering on me. No, it wasn’t a dress style, it was a writing style. I tried to pull on a style that looked good on others, but it was not a good fit for who God has made me to be.

I was trying to wear something shiny and sleek so that I would gain attention and maximize impact.

But, it didn’t lay nicely and it felt uncomfortable.

I was conflicted. I was trying so hard for it to fit, but it just wouldn’t. It did not complement how I was made, much to my dismay.

But here’s the thing, God made each of us a certain way, completely on purpose.

While we might be irritated with the largeness or smallness of our mold, Our Creator was intentional when He spun us on the Potter’s Wheel.

Come on over for the rest of the story as Katie hosts the #RaRaLinkup over at her place, katiemreid.com, today