Mistaken Identity

Where do you find your identity and self worth?

Is it in how you look, who you know or who you date?

A lot of times as teenage girls, rather than looking to God – the one who made us and knows us inside and out – we look around us to what we physically see and who we know. We look in the mirror, we ask friends, we search social media, we find a guy. But all of these things are really shallow. Social media changes by the second. What’s in today is out tomorrow. Friends come and go, boyfriends disappoint. And when we anchor our self-worth or our identity to these things, we are in for a lot of disappointment and heartache.

The definition of identity is who you truly are on the inside. It has nothing to do with anything external.

The perfect scripture to sum this up is: 1 Samuel 16:7b says – “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

So how do you know if you are dealing with “mistaken identity”?  Take a look at what we usually value more than what’s happening on the inside of us:  (The inside is where our true identity lies).

  1. Your self-worth comes from your Appearance.

Do you care more about what you look like, than how you act?

Our society values appearance. Teen girls everywhere idolize women like Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Emma Roberts. They are envied because of their looks, followers and popularity. But their public lives are only a piece of their real lives. What we see on billboards, magazines, social media and TV are the images their publicists want everyone to see – modified, edited, photoshopped images that create a reality for girls to envy and look up to. Every once in awhile we hear what they are really going through, but quickly those things are swept aside, so you can focus on the surface things like what they are wearing or what hairstyle or make-up brand they use.

Proverbs 31:30 – “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Do you know any women who really fear the Lord? Maybe you should follow their lives a little more closely?

 

  1. Your identity comes from who you know.

From the time we are little, we understand the social system of popularity.  We create categories and try to identify where we fit best.  Our identities are formed by those we hang with – the athletes, the preppy kids, the nerds, etc. –  and from a very young age, we believe our identity is defined by who we know. But, when we try to find our value in the friends we hang with or if our identity is wrapped up in that, we become devastated when relationships fall apart.

As teen girls, we often get caught in the trap of comparing ourselves with other girlfriends.  We compare our looks, talents and abilities with those we hang with.  It creates a feeling of “I’m not good enough because everyone around me is prettier, smarter or more talented.”

The truth is: Our value does come from someone we know, and that person is Jesus.  Think about this for a second: you have been invited to have a personal relationship with God – the creator of the universe. What greater relationship could there be on the planet?

 

  1. Your worth comes from a boyfriend.

A lot of times as girls, we find our identities in who we date. We think that we need a guy to tell us we are beautiful and loved, rather than knowing we are absolutely adored by God.

A lot of times, the way we feel about ourselves totally depends on whether we are noticed in a room, or get enough social media likes on a post. Our value and worth is dependent on how guys treat us on any given day. If we are noticed or complimented, it’s a good day. If we are ignored, it’s a terrible day and we feel awful about ourselves.

Guys cannot determine your value or worth. Jesus did that when He died for you. He proved that you are so precious and valuable – valuable enough to DIE for. Relationships are fragile, and change and if your value is based on the guy you are with, as soon as that relationship ends, your self-worth will be shattered. You have to know who you are and who you belong to in order to remain secure in your identity.

Isaiah 43:1 says – Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  (This is what God says about you.)

THIS is the place of secure identity – the place of knowing we belong to God.

So I’d encourage you today – don’t base your identity on things like your appearance, your group of friends or having a boyfriend. Let your true identity come from knowing you belong to God and that He absolutely adores you – just the way you are!

Pam Lozano is the Founder and President of Pure Design Ministries and Teen Magazine. She is a Youth Pastor with her husband at Oasis City Church in Westerville, Ohio. She loves investing in and mentoring the next generation to raise them up to be who God has designed them to be. Pam loves to write, drink Starbucks with friends and go for long walks.

Attitude of Gratitude

During November, a lot of people do these posts on gratitude. You may think, oh another year, another list of things to be grateful for, blah, blah. What’s the big deal?

Well for me, it helps shift my perspective!

A lot of times I get caught up comparing myself to other moms. I look at my friend’s posts on Instagram and think, they have a better life than me! I love their house, their clothes, their new shoes, their make-up, that great bag! I envy their vacation spots and wish I had their life.  You know what’s crazy though? They are probably doing the same thing with my posts!

The Bible talks about gratitude as an attitude of our hearts.  Giving thanks for what we have is so important, because it changes our perspective. Did you ever stop to think, you don’t envy people who have less than you, you envy those who have more.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Rejoice always? Pray continually? Give thanks always? Those are some pretty hard words to live out!

Several years ago, I had the privilege to travel to Tijuana, Mexico on a mission’s trip with a group of teens we were leading. One afternoon we traveled up the side of a windy mountain to a village to share the gospel with people who lived there. When I got there, I was shocked at the level of poverty. The people who hosted the trip tried to prepare us, but until you see things up close, in person, it just isn’t real. There was no running water and no bathrooms, it was crazy!

A woman in the village invited us into her home. As part of our team crammed into her tiny one-room house, my heart sank. Her entire family shared this space that was probably the size of our guest bedroom (which isn’t very big). The floors were dirt, the roof was a piece of tin literally held down by tires and the walls were a mud-like mixture. A very thin, dirty mattress laid on the ground with a blanket. Thin pieces of cloth that covered the “windows” waved in the breeze. There were no screens or glass, just openings with this flimsy fabric covering them. A small table sat in one corner that was their kitchen. A pot with some boiling water sat on the tiniest stove-like structure I had ever seen. I don’t know if they had to buy the water or fetch it from a well or spring, because again, there wasn’t running water in the village anywhere.

The woman invited us in with the biggest smile on her face. She wasn’t ashamed of how little she had, she was gratefulfor the Americans who had traveled to her village to share the love of Jesus. I was amazed in the middle of her lack, she was so joyful.

There is no way I could compare her life to mine. Her house fits into my guest room. Her belongings were old and tattered. They had very few clothes, no closet, no dresser, no extra shoes. Her family members didn’t have their own rooms, in fact, they didn’t even have their own beds – they shared one mattress on the ground. There is just no comparison of her life and mine. But if I had to measure her joy and contentment, I bet she had more joy and was more content than I was. It’s not about how much we own, it’s about being grateful for what we do have.

As I sit at my desk today, Starbucks in hand, typing away on my Mac laptop, surrounded by things I love – a scented candle, a gold embossed mug, books, family photos, inspirational quotes, Bibles and journals, I am reminded how good I really have it.

I am healthy. I am loved by God and friends and family. I live in beautiful home and am warm. I am able to do things in my life that I love. I have money in our bank account, more shoes than I need, clothes I never wear and many, many things I take for granted.

I’d encourage you throughout November to look at what you have in life, rather than what you don’t. A change in perspective helps you see how blessed you are. If you dare, take the 30-day challenge and write down at least one thing you are grateful for every day this month. (If you start today, list 2! J)

Leave a comment here on our blog, or take a second to post on Instagram or FB.  Take the 30-day challenge! I dare you!

Pam Lozano is the Founder and President of Pure Design Ministries and Teen Magazine. She is a Youth Pastor with her husband at Oasis City Church in Westerville, Ohio. She is a conscientious leader who believes in investing in and mentoring the next generation to raise them up to be who God has designed them to be. Pam loves to write, drink Starbucks with friends and go for long walks.

 

Launching a Dream God’s Way

Do you have a great idea that the world is going to love? Have you always wanted to be your own boss? Entrepreneurship may just be the path for you!  Read on for a few things I’ve learned from launching my own business.

#1 – Find Your Launchpad

Your passions are the perfect launchpad for starting a business. Ask yourself two questions: What do I LOVE to do? How could I make money at it?

When I was 17, I loved health and nutrition.  I walked around health food stores looking at all the products and planned my weekly meals using lots of new recipes. The idea came to my mom first.  She said “Isabel, you could make money doing this!!” Fast-forward a year later, I was working full time planning menus, grocery shopping, and cooking for my very own clients!

Don’t feel passionate about anything right now? Use a problem as your launchpad. Billions of successful products and businesses exist today as a result of yesterday’s problems and inconveniences. I always use kitchen tools as an example. Do you find slicing a banana by hand annoying? Go grab the Chef Matic Banana Slicer!  Never have a free hand when headed to the kitchen trash can? Luckily someone invented the hands-free step-on trashcan a while back. Keep a notebook of all the little inconveniences or problems you experience every day, and try to come up with at least 25 good solutions for each of them. Chances are, you may end up with a really successful business idea!

#2 – Team Up with God

We all know when we surrender our thoughts and ideas to God, they flourish.  And when we try to do things in our own strength, things are often sour from the start. Talk to God about your dreams and desires.  Ask Him what he thinks about your business ideas.  If you don’t have any ideas, ask Him to give you one.  He will help you find your launchpad! God put desires in all of our hearts so they may bear fruit. If your dream is to start a business, chances are, God gave you that dream and he’s going to help you achieve it! Submit your desires to Him and let Him lead you.

Starting a business isn’t easy and can be discouraging. In the very beginning of my business, I hardly made any money.  It was almost impossible to imagine that my business would actually be successful someday. When I prayed and asked God if I should keep pursing it, He gave me a vision of a sign that read “Success.” Any time I would get discouraged and pray, I would see that same vision! Now two years later, I have eight employees and we made six figures of income last year! God is always faithful!  He knows the plans He has for you, so trust Him even when you can’t see the big picture!

#3 – Get the Ball Rolling

The first step to people buying your product or paying for your service is visibility.  People have to know your business exists. Social Media is an awesome tool you can use to create awareness and excitement to grow a following. A website is an essential place for people to learn more about what you offer. The most successful form of advertising is word of mouth, so make sure your family, friends, and your friend’s friends know about what you’re doing!

It’s also important to surround yourself with people who support, encourage, and believe in you and your business. This stage can be scary, I know it was for me! Sometimes it’s hard to feel like your business is valid when you don’t have any paying customers yet, but keep pressing on. The success God has for you may look different than you imagined!

 

Bio: Isabel Young is 21 years old and lives in Westerville with her husband Michael. She owns Food by Bel, a healthy, prepared meal delivery and personal chef service company that services the greater Columbus area. She enjoys traveling, hiking, making spreadsheets, and is a mom to over twenty house plants!

Give Thanks

Every year as brightly hued leaves begin to fall, the wind chills to cooler temperatures and pumpkin spice lattes make their rounds, I am reminded that a great season is here. The season of Thanksgiving reminds us to thank the Lord for our blessings. Although the entire day is centered on celebrating God’s gifts in our lives, is it possible that we succumb to the world’s ideals and unintentionally replace our thankfulness with greed?

It is no secret that our world is dominated by greed. Time and time again we see that no matter how much we have, we will never be satisfied until we have a little more. However, this lie holds no weight against the truths of God’s Word. We learn from the Bible that the things of this world will fade away. One day when we face all of eternity, none of the things of the world will matter. On the contrary, eternal lives will matter.

Instead of wanting more this holiday season, let’s take the focus off ourselves, give thanks for the gifts we have, and use them for God’s glory. Let this holiday season be one of giving. Give up your selfish desires and worries and put someone else’s first. Whether you are given the opportunity to help prepare the meal or pray with a family member, make this season about others. Be thankful for what you have been given, but don’t let the gratitude stop at words, allow your grateful heart to influence your actions as well. The Lord promises to answers your prayers, if you pray for opportunities to express your thankfulness (whether through words or actions) He will provide a way. This holiday season allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart to the world’s hurts and take action through the giving of thanks.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

(1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV).

Sophia Kalinke is a homeschooled junior who is actively involved in church and youth group. She loves dancing, reading, writing, drawing, theatre, hanging out with family and friends, and ministering to God’s world. Writing is one of her favorite creative outlets and she seeks to encourage others through her shared Instagram account: @beautifullybelovedministries.     

Still I Praise You

Gratitude is often given when we notice good things in our lives. When a loved one is healed from being sick, or when we receive gifts from friends and family, we give thanks. We even set aside a special day of Thanksgiving to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. It is easy to be thankful for the good in our lives, but I recently found myself wondering how much more joy I would receive from the Lord, if I was thankful for both the good and bad I have faced.

I stumbled upon a verse that made me think deeper; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”

What if I was to praise God for walking by my side through my worries and fears? This past year I lost a friend that was both my mentor and a sister in faith. This sudden passing made me question what I am grateful for in my life. It also made me question my own happiness. Through many dark days God walked before me showing me the way He wanted me to go. Without God, I would not have made it through the dark tunnel of grief. Although it may sound odd, I look back at my sadness with gratitude. It truly shaped me into a stronger child of God.  It opened my eyes to be grateful for the constants in my life – to not just praise God in the moments of excitement and joy, but to continue to praise him when it is calm and when life is steady. I wrote a song called “Still I praise you.” Below are the lyrics:

Our Father, the One who guides our souls.

Messiah, please lead me wherever I go.

Where have you been?

My heart is longing for your love.

I feel alone, Lord give me the strength to carry on.

Cause even when it’s dark,

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

I get so caught up in my day to day life.

I start to lose sight of the beauty in this world you designed.

When I lose hope, and lose sight of my faithfulness inside.

Oh Lord,

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

Cause even when it’s dark, you lead me in the dark wherever I go.

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

Oh Lord I praise you, oh I will praise you.

Cause even when it’s dark, you lead me in the dark wherever I go.

I have started to thank God even on days I feel restless and sad. I know I must praise Him for all the blessings and gifts He has given me. I encourage you during this season of Thanksgiving to give God praise for the times your faith has been tested this past year. Give him praise for being constant in your life and for always watching over you. Through each season we must remind ourselves to praise the One who loves us and who will continue to be with us through all our trials and times of joy.