This is Carina.
Her drink is a decaf black coffee (french-pressed).
Though my internet refused to be helpful during our Zoom chat, Carina and I still got a chance to connect and learn about one another. From the moment I clicked onto her website and saw a gorgeous photo of an autumn leaf, I knew we were two peas in a pod (or, rather, two acorns on a stem).
What I knew about Carina, prior to our chat, was that she is a regular contributor and devotional writer for the Joyful Life Magazine—where we were introduced. What I didn’t know about Carina was that she once was a licensed professional counselor and spent years as a mental health therapist.
So she and I have yet another thing in common: our schooling and training led us to careers that were right for a season in our lives, but that God has called us in slightly different directions since then.
And so it is with a rucksack full of personal experience that Carina dedicates much of her online presence to helping others discern their callings in Christ as well.
CARINA’S BEEN THERE
“My passion for helping people with their callings came out of my own personal experiences.
In my career as a counselor, I felt unfulfilled in many ways. I pushed aside the dissatisfaction for a while, thinking, Maybe this is just how it is—maybe serving God is meant to be a sacrifice and I’m not necessarily supposed to feel super passionate.
I pressed on in my job to the best of my ability, but one day I was talking to God about the discouragement I’d been feeling and the struggles I’d been having with my career, and I just got really honest with how I’d been feeling. And in the midst of that conversation, I had an epiphany—I realized that God was telling me that I wasn’t meant to be a counselor. It was such a relief !
But then I started wondering: If I’m not a counselor, what am I? I started asking myself, What is the raw material that makes up who I am? What am I naturally interested in and gifted at? Through that process, God made it very clear to me that He was calling me to be a writer. I had dreamed about being a writer for a long time, but I never thought it was practical, so to realize that’s what God was actually calling me to do was very exciting.
When we invest time and schooling into something, we can often get trapped there; it can be hard to let that go. But if God is calling us to something new, He will always make a way. And while we will all likely experience difficulties in each of our callings, I do believe that God wants us to feel fulfilled and full of life, and He can help us find fulfillment when we pursue whatever it is He leads us into.”
THREE ASPECTS OF PURPOSE
“I think it’s easy to feel like our purpose is something big and outside of us, something that’s somewhere over the horizon and out of reach, and that, if we’re lucky, one day we’ll find it. But I’ve found that it’s much simpler than we think. Our purpose is rooted in who God created us to be, and because of that, we can express it wherever we are, no matter what season we’re in. And we usually don’t have just one calling but rather several. Sometimes we have callings that last a lifetime, and sometimes callings are only for a season.
To help explain purpose, I like to use the analogy of a tree.
Think about a tree in its most basic sense: a tree has roots, a trunk, and branches with leaves. The three parts are distinct but interlinked.”
“The roots represent our relationship with God: our ultimate purpose. We were created first and foremost to have a relationship with Him—to experience His love and to love Him back. This is the foundational purpose of our lives, similar to the way roots create the firm foundation of the tree.
The trunk represents the core of who we are—our individual gifts, personalities, and interests. The second part of our purpose is to be an authentic expression of who God created us to be. So for me, that might look like expressing myself through writing or through art.
The branches and leaves represent the act of sharing who we are. As Bruce Wilkinson says, “If the God of heaven loves you infinitely and wants you in His presence every moment, and if He knows that heaven is a much better place for you, then why on earth has He left you here?” We’re here on this earth for a reason—to love God and be who He created us to be, and also to share His love with others. So I want to use my writing, my art, whatever it is, to love others and share God’s love and hope with them.
As I mentioned, calling is often seasonal. Just as the branches and leaves of a tree look different in different seasons, so our callings are probably going to look different in our different seasons of life. For example, I believe God has called me to write books, but just because I have yet to publish a book doesn’t mean I can’t share my writing now. So, in the season prior to my book publishing season, I can still share my writing and encourage others through devotions, blog posts, articles, and courses, etc.”
MY CREATIVE BEST, YOUR CREATIVE BEST
“I created a course called Your Creative Best, which is based on Paul’s letter to Galatia:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.Galatians 6: 4-5, MSG
And that’s what this course is all about—it’s about helping people explore and discover who they are and what God might be calling them to do in their current season.
Currently, the course is set up on my website as a stand-alone e-course in the sense that a reader can purchase, view, and work through the course on their own. But I’d love to do a live version of the course again.”
CARINA’S CURRENT SEASON
I asked Carina what her “leaves” look like during this current season.
“My current season feels like a recalibration. I’ve needed to pause certain goals, like writing my book proposal, while I address some more pressing family and home issues.
I’ve also been trying to make more time for rest. God does call us to do good work, but He also doesn’t want us to strive in our own strength, and He still wants us to rest and take care of ourselves. I read An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling this past spring, and it really encouraged me to slow down and trust God with the journey I’m on. I really believe God has called me to write this book, and while I certainly have a role to play, burning myself out is not the way to make it happen.”
“As far as what’s next, one thing I do think God is prompting me to do sometime in the next six to twelve months is to create a new course based on my book idea. This will help me serve people now while I grow my email list, and it will also help me refine the idea for the book as well.
Whatever I do, I always try to keep in mind that our purpose is always rooted in our relationship with God . That must always come first. I try to remember that God doesn’t call us to do things for Him, rather He calls us to do things with Him. It’s all about relationship.”
It takes bravery to listen to God’s directions and make sacrifices in order to follow them. Saying “yes” to God sometimes means abandoning some of our culture’s notions of “success.” But I know that God is watching Carina use her spiritual gifts for the Kingdom, and I believe He will one day say to her “ well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
with His love,
To connect with Carina: