The Journey Between Knowing and Believing

Sometimes it’s a short trip….and others? Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us about the Israelites spending 40 years in the wilderness for nothing…

I’ve always seen the journey as my head-heart connection. I knew the Bible told me over and over how much God loves me…. I desperately wanted to believe that truth. But somewhere deep, deep inside, a part of me found it too good to be true. Life told me love was earned and performance was everything.

What changed you ask? Of all things, a long weekend where His love was poured over me… again…. and again…. and again. A weekend of women selflessly serving and sharing His Word – His Truths – His Love. A weekend with ZERO distractions. A beautiful weekend of bridging the gap between knowing and believing.

That weekend? It’s called The Walk to Emmaus

“The walk to Emmaus is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.”

For more information, reach out to fellow members of your church or visit The Upper Room

As with all things, there’s so much more! It’s been seven years since that pivotal weekend…and in that weekend, I began a true relationship with God. His timing is so impeccable! The year after I was diagnosed with cancer, I challenged myself to #write31days in an effort to recap the mighty ways in which God has moved in my life. Journaling has been an integral part of my faith journey and sharing those thoughts with readers is just a small part of my commitment to glorify God and share His goodness.

Where are you? One thing I know (and believe!) is that regardless of “where” you are…. God is still there! A relationship with Him, and more importantly, His love is never ever based on how good you are… you get His unconditional love no matter what…. and a relationship with Him only requires your willingness to allow Him in. I read a great article from CBN on the Promised Land and the possible why’s for when we find ourselves in the wilderness.

As we enter this season of thanksgiving, my prayer is that you can slow down, avoid distractions, and enjoy the rhythms of God’s Love and Grace.

I’m a Thriver!

It’s been a month filled with celebrations! It’s not lost on me just how blessed I am that my body has responded so well to cancer treatment when so.many.don’t. and this side of Heaven, I won’t have those answers… what I do know is that I can make the most of this time to praise God with all that I have!

As I approached 5 years since my diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, a lot has happened….a lot of life has happened… I survived a bunch of medical stuff…intense chemo, palliative radiation, shingles, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and lung complications from meds… all my hair came out and it came back curly as ever!

but there has been far more good….. my heart practically burst with joy as my daughter walked down the aisle to embark on the adventure of marriage. I discovered a love of FaithArt and a greater love to share art with others…from bookmarks to a Bible study to an Etsy store… God has continued to grow me by leaps and bounds!

This past year I’ve been pursuing better lifestyle choices – that started with a study called The Wellness Revelation, which led me to Whole30, another fast, and finally a more mindful approach to food as fuel vs comfort.

The timing is perfect to build on my appreciation for how far God has brought me with Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts study starting Nov 18th. My prayer is that I truly commit mind and spirit to this study – although I’m already pretty darn appreciative of daily blessings, I know God has even more He wants to teach me and I’m eager to learn.

What will the next year bring? That’s a great question! I’m perfectly content to take it one day at a time ☺️

A Brave Thing

So I did a thing today.  For me, a very brave thing indeed!  As I was scrolling thru the Netflix guide, my eyes landed on ‘The Long Goodbye’ – the documented story of Kara Tippitts.  A seemingly average woman, who wasn’t the least bit average.  A young mother’s story of love and grace in the midst of the enemy – cancer.  You can read more on her restored blog, Mundane Faithfulness.

I don’t generally watch cancer movies – I know how the story ends.  I don’t want to see my life in someone else’s and measure where I’m “at”  But today was different…. and I watched…. and of course, the tears flowed like rain.  But they weren’t tears of fear – they were cleansing tears as God pressed on my heart, “I see you, My sweet girl. It’s okay to let others see you too.”

You see, I love to write. I love to share… but I absolutely cannot authentically write without being vulnerable. And with vulnerability, comes pain exposure.  It’s hard to share the hard stuff…. and what I admired in Kara’s story was her ability to be so lovingly real and graciously raw.

God’s been pressing on me for a while and yes, I’ve been dodging Him (as if that’s a real possibility!)  It’s so much easier to be lazy, but there’s no value in a wasted life.  Watching the movie today reminded me of a group on Facebook that’s led by a friend –  Fight Dirty by Loving Big. She always ends with “go forth and conquer – that means I love you”  And no, I don’t usually actively participate – that requires more authenticity than I’ve been brave enough to muster.

You see, in many ways, I’m the proverbial duck… calm on the surface and paddling like mad underneath.  Folks…..when they see the girl….. they get to see the girl who loves Jesus and talks about the gifts of cancer.  She doesn’t talk about the hard parts – why? She doesn’t want to make people sad or feel sorry for her.  BUT she’s been slowly exiting far left…. for fear of showing pain or showing fear itself…. hiding from the day to day….all the while not realizing what she’s doing.

And here’s the real beauty in writing…. God shows me what I’m really doing…. or not doing, as the case may be!

A few weeks ago, I started a group study called The Wellness Revelation being hosted by Stephanie Ackerman  – it’s a God first study focused on losing what’s weighing you down – and yes, physical weight is a big part… but for me, I knew it was something much deeper – I just didn’t know what.  And to be quite frank, if I’d had a clue where God was leading me, I obviously would’ve run the other way!  But I suppose God usually has to work that way with me – at least when He’s trying to get my undivided attention.

f.e.a.r.    who’da thunk????? But that’s how fear works, isn’t it?  Well, thank ya Jesus!  Now that it’s been identified, it’s up to me to let God do His thing and work it out of my life.  I’m not afraid of death – I know to whom I belong.  I’m not afraid of cancer… at least I don’t think so (time will surely tell!)….could I be afraid of living?  That sounds pretty weird to me, but again…. time will tell….but where I landed today was realizing and acknowledging that fear has been dictating the extent to which I’m living and loving.

And selective living and loving isn’t really living at all, is it?  Where is God going to take this? No idea.  But I’m committed letting Him do a work in and through me and to being real – raw – and open.  Intentionally open to my inner circle, outer circle, and whoever is out in cyberland that God chooses to touch with His message of love, hope and redemption.

img_2312

 

Welcome to The Table

Welcome to the TableI shared this post on Facebook, and then it dawned on me that I didn’t write about it here first!  So…. here it is….

I’m so excited!!! My brain has been going a million miles a second….flooded with ideas….

I shared a video on Facebook about the book “The Turquoise Table” – it’s all about creating community in our own front yards by reaching out & loving others….

In case you haven’t followed recent posts on my blog, I started writing and sharing a bible study based on the Love Dare book (you can read about it here: https://celetac.com/my-love-dare-with-god/ )…..and yes, it’s about loving others!

And then, a friend at church invited me to join a group…. Fighting dirty…loving big… it’s all about getting out of my comfort zone by physically reaching out to love on others…

Well…. I’m not really out and about daily, and lately cancer challenges have really been a pain in my backside (literally! 🤣) – I’ve found that when I am out, lingering to reach out is much more difficult physically than emotionally

Notice a trend????

Well….as I read the book (The Turquoise Table) I’ve been thinking, “where can I put MY table???” I live at the back of my complex & my cottage gets very little traffic 😏….down the way, a neighbor sat out chairs, but that didn’t seem quite right either…

As I was engrossed in the book (thank you Amazon Prime!), I kept asking God, “where’s my table?????”

And then…. as I was preparing to work on the Love Dare with God study, it hit me…. THE CRAFT ROOM!

My complex has a room designated for crafts, but it’s rarely, if EVER used! They also have a COFFEE ROOM; it’s on the 2nd floor… the BEST part???? They are both near me!!! The main activity room for the complex is at the front of the property & a bit far for me to walk on a regular basis, let alone carry beverages or crafts… notice a ‘God Thing’ happening here????

No Strangers HereHonestly, I was so excited that I just had to walk over for a visual of each room 🤓….. the only thing it didn’t have was a billboard saying,

you asked Celeta, here it is…..love God

Yes indeed….. I found “my” table….first things first though….finish the Love Dare study, and THEN leap out of my comfort zone again and watch God show off 🙌🏻

signature1

Power of Prayer

Please continue to pray for all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey…. it is all so surreal it’s difficult to take in the devastation😞

Our God is mightiful & merciful! He will carry us through this storm. 
I am part of the minority – I am safe & dry, but so so many are not…literally THOUSANDS of boat rescues have taken place in Harris County over the past 48 hours
My heart aches for my fellow neighbors, but joyful to see those spared out helping – whether it’s offering boat rescues, food, shelter (yes! complete strangers opening their homes!), you name it, Texans rise above!

A part of me was frustrated that I couldn’t be one of them….boots on the ground per se, but what I CAN do???? PRAY! To some that may not seem like much, but I’m proof positive of the power of prayer! My body may not be able, but my spirit is STRONG and will prevail. 

Please share your prayer needs

#write31days – Day 19

imageOne of my primary goals in writing for 31 consecutive days is transparency… so here I am… being transparent.  I REALLY did not want to write this evening… I did exactly what I wrote about in my last post… thinking too far ahead (or perhaps behind…) of the posts to come… and I didn’t want to go there.

Well, of course I wrote…reminding myself of baby steps…two sheets of paper at a time… the great thing is that I was able to recall some really hard decisions and have peace over them vs my usual “could I have done more” mental interrogations.

And yes, that’s where God and His gracious healing power comes into full view… because of those hard days and seemingly impossible decisions, I was learning to receive God’s glorious embrace and willingly take refuge in Him… if only for a short while… make no mistake though, He was teaching me how to lean into Him for the days too difficult to imagine.

signature1

 

 

image

Unknowns

 Yesterday evening I was asked to pray for a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer and scheduled for a PET scan today. A flood of memories filled my mind as I recalled those moments not so long ago – I immediately went into my problem solving mode (forever the analyst!) and then God whispered…

Celeta, you know Me!

Why yes! I do! And then the words poured out faster than I could type…eloquent? perhaps not. true? I believe so.

How can we tell? Go to the source! These are only a few verses, but I believe it proves the point…throughout His Word, God is ALWAYS with us – fighting for His us.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 NIV

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. Luke 21:14 NIV

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken..  Psalm16:8 NIV

They will have no fear of bad news;  their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.  Psalm 112:7 NIV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5 NIV

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3 NIV

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6 NIV

 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes… Isaiah 61:3

Wherever you are today – whatever the situation creating those not so fuzzy feelings… allow God’s Word to soak into your spirit.  The truth is, beyond this fleeting moment, none of us know what the future holds…we do, however, have the opportunity to know who holds it!