Hello 2020!

Happy New Year y’all! A new year and a new decade lies ahead…what victories and challenges will you face in the coming days and months? Time always tells.

While 2019 was filled with valleys for many, I am so thankful it was a pretty good year for this ole gal (OG!) – God led me through a journey towards healthier eating habits and cancer didn’t reveal any new challenges🙌🏻 Those small victories enabled me to be more supportive both physically and emotionally…. and I want more of that!

Over the past few years, I’ve participated in choosing my One Word – for 2020, my one word is gather – that word seems a bit odd, but also on the money! Towards the end of 2019, I did a few new things – after several years of procrastinating, I finally opened an Etsy shop to share FaithArt God lays on my heart, I contributed FaithArt to a longtime FB friend as an accompaniment to her Bible Studies, and I connected with another beautiful soul that I am oh so eager to meet face to face and see how God unfolds our story

What One Word has God laid on your heart this year? I’ve included a freebie for you to print or save for digital use ➡️ https://celetac.com/creative-hearts-paper-studio/ My prayer this year is for each of us to live a life of intentional love, gratitude, grace, and surrender.

‘Tis the Season

A few weeks ago I was thinking about how holidays can be pretty painful for many and last night our Community group touched on the topic again and it brought me back to this post where God has been sitting… and waiting… the October thru December is a time where many focus on thanksgiving. This year I was presented with Ann Voskamp’s one thousand gifts – a study to embrace gratitude and allow God to weave it into the fabric of our daily lifestyle.

As I’ve shared before, for me I’d much rather focus on the blessing of cancer instead of the hard parts… but the thing is, it’s the hard parts that I believe bring about the blessings… which begs the question, ‘if cancer was easy, would I be as grateful?’ – good question, right?

And that thought brought me back to those whose “grief bucket” may be overflowing this time of year and Ann’s FaceBook live video that touches on gratitude and grief (around the 14min mark) Ann Voskamp – one thousand gifts

Are you desperately missing a loved one this season? Is this time of year a stark reminder of who or what you don’t have? Most likely. Ann suggests writing out traits of or experiences with that special someone that brings a smile to our hearts…. and in doing so, perhaps the bitter will become sweeter.

Last year my stepdad passed away the day after Thanksgiving. And even though the head knows a heavenly promotion is coming, rarely is the heart ready. Grief during holiday season last year was sidestepped by the busyness of an upcoming move. This year? Not so much. I watch my mom in her silent sadness and my heart breaks for her – there is nothing I can do that will take away her pain. Only God can fill the void in her heart, but I can do as Ann suggests… counter pain and sadness with sweet, precious memories.

Is there someone in your life struggling this season? Or perhaps you find your heart overwhelmed with grief or sadness? I encourage you to seek God and reach out – it doesn’t have to be some grand gesture – a simple “I see you” can do more than you imagine!

Blessing y’all!

WOW Days

Don’t you just love the days when God shows off just how divinely he plans??? Accurately describing this divine appointment is a bit challenging to me so of course I deferred to visual aids! This is a story of two different women, in two different states….both with a passion for God…. these two women follow a blog by artist Sue Carroll (1Arthouse – Doodle 101) and on this certain day, Celeta read Sue’s latest post…. Kathy saw Sue’s post and decided to search FB for her art…. Sue has been a great long distance art teacher to Celeta (me!) and often posts about her on Creative Hearts Paper Studio FB page….

Kathy’s search landed her on Creative Hearts and as she scrolled thru the posts, she saw me reference Revelation Wellness…. Kathy followed God’s prompting and reached out to me…

A conversation that started around Revelation Wellness, quickly expanded to the sharing of a dream God planted…. a grand dream that ‘lil ole me might be a part of!

I gotta tell ya’…. I was on a JOY high most of the day! God started stirring something in me that I can’t quite describe or explain, but it’s something special…that much I’m pretty certain!

Stay tuned for updates! I’m diligently slowin’ my roll so God can lead without me getting in the way 😉

Cancer and a Healthier Lifestyle

One thing is for certain, attempts to modify daily habits while in the midst of quite possibly the hardest life battle proved to be futile in my case. But never say never with God! Where there’s His Will, there’s definitely a way…

To be honest, I leaned on what I knew so well to be my comfort of choice…food – for others, it might be shopping or a host of other things. I’ve always known food could be my arch nemesis, but it wasn’t until this past year that I began to see my poor choices in a different light.

God is so incredibly patient with me – no matter how often I choose other things before Him – He’s always right there waiting to show me the better way. My ‘intro course’ was an online group study of a book called Wellness Revelation – yes, it’s about weight loss…. but not just the pounds type. It’s about losing whatever is weighing you down.

I had a gut hunch (aka God promptings) that before I embarked on changing the foods I consumed, I needed to have an understanding of the “whys” for my choices. So for nine weeks, God and I spent a lot time together during the weekly lessons to shed light on my whys. I learned a lot, but primarily the revelation that I wasn’t allowing God to be my comforter and that I was mindlessly choosing food to fill a void only He can fill.

Following the study, God then showed me the Whole30 program – a dramatic shift to eliminate processed foods and sugars. But here’s the key: I had to surrender my efforts first because I knew I couldn’t make real change alone. The 30 days passed before I knew it! I was 10 pounds lighter and feeling better than I had in years. My primary goal was to have more energy and that goal was achieved! But then it was like, “now what, Lord?” Whole30 is not intended for long term, but I knew I needed more practice… and then there it was, a 21-day sugar fast – not terribly different, but a reinforcement plan of sorts with daily scripture and encouragement to cheer me on.

Here I am four months later… celebrating 5 years as a cancer thriver, down 20 pounds and still incorporating healthier choices. Like all things, there’s no magic pill… it’s not a ‘one and done’…. it’s a daily walk with the Lord leading the way.

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.

Rise up!

Oh my goodness! Why I didn’t publish this post TWO years ago, I have no idea… but I stumbled across it this evening and it fits in perfectly with My Love Dare with God

Not so long ago, I posted on Facebook that I received my new Inspire journaling Bible & discovered something new….the line art included with the Bible actually draws me into scripture – pretty cool, right?

So now I’m learning to take it a step further, which is actually bringing faith art full circle….beyond coloring (first)….beyond reading….to writing & a bit more coloring!

This morning as I was working in my Documented Faith binder – I’ve revised mine a bit to focus on words of the month vs months (that way I don’t feel “behind” – yeah, the comparison stick, but let’s leave that subject for another day!) – anyway, my eyes landed on love – so many verses on love, right?  So I began flipping through my Bible and landed in Judges – admittedly not a book of the Bible I’ve spent much time studying or even reading…the line art was simple, but it grabbed my attention all the same…Judges 5:31

May those who love You rise like the sun in all its power.

Immediately I thought of sunrises. I love them! Everything is usually still & quiet….life is still a bit blurry-eyed and the brain isn’t driving at supersonic speeds…the promise of a new day….new opportunities and yes, new challenges…. But it’s a time to set our paths straight again – to keep our eyes & focus upward.

The first sunrise that came to mind was at Surfside beach – yes…I had to head out from home pretty early, and even though the ocean usually doesn’t call my name, it did that day…so off I went.  The beach was deserted and quite frankly, I didn’t have much of a clue as to where I was going! I’d only been there once before in recent years, and since I’m not exactly the spontaneous type, I’d definitely call it a God thing.  Alone with the waves rushing in, sand in my toes and coffee in hand, I sat and watched as the sun sparkled across the water – such power! such promise! Oh…. if only I showed my love for God like a sunrise!

I went in search of pictures I took that morning – not on my phone, not on my old phone, not on my Mac….darn! They must be on that hard drive buried behind boxes…what I discovered though were other sunrises…and you know what? The feelings were practically the same! All the others were woodsy type (that’s my favorite place!)…the difference? Anticipation. On the water, there is nothing to block your view – in a wooded area, you get glimpses at first….it takes a bit more patience, but maybe that’s a good thing….it’s an opportunity to “get still” first….to lean in and hear God whisper to my heart.

What is God whispering to you today? Did you miss it? Did you rush off in a flurry of to-dos today? Take a few moments – walk outside….take your phone with you & snap a picture of the sun…is your view clear? cloudy? dark?  Now close your eyes and imagine….only the sun…feel the warmth of it on your face and let it sink in. God’s love for us is infinitely more powerful than the sun and even though there may be obstacles blocking our view, He is still there….loving us and wanting nothing more than for us to rise up and love in return.

May those who love You rise like the sun in all its power.

Further Reading 

After I found the verse, I put the spectacles in reverse to see what in the world they were actually talking about! Go figure….it was a song! The Song of Deborah….whoops back up….Deborah who? Yeah….I’ve got a LOT to learn! The less than abbreviated version (i.e. I’ve got much more reading to do!)….Deborah was a prophet (surprise to me) and a judge….anyway, her song was praising God for defeating Canaanite King Jabin.  Happy Reading!

My “Mess” is My Message

Today I received my copy of Stephanie Ackerman’s latest book Faith Journaling for the Inspired Artist. Did I need another book on Journaling or Art? Well, apparently I did! Not five pages in, the photo to the left smacked me upside the head…kinda crazy, right? Stephanie, among other wonderful women, have encouraged me from afar with their zest for art, an insane love for God, and the desire to intertwine the two.

For the past month, God has really been working on me & my obedience factor… at the forefront has been a host of new cancer challenges…. but those challenges have been the catalyst to realizing I haven’t consistently been giving God my best.  I’ve been giving what’s easy and through numerous experiences… sermons especially ….(thanks Pastor Jim!), I’ve been convicted as to how I’m living my life I’m for God.

Stage IV Cancer, like so many other chronic diseases, is HARD.  It doesn’t go away.period. and more often than not, you get new challenges… like wonky lungs, blood clots, and such.  I am very thankful though – just think if God allowed cancer to hit you with everything all at once? No bueno!

While I thought I’d learned my new normal, I was still entirely too focused holding tightly onto the things I could still do.  Like grocery shopping, housekeeping, or walking the dog… yeah, call it what it is….PRIDE.  Don’t get me wrong, staying active is essential, but holding too tightly onto things is a slippery slope and sets you…me… up for missing great God opportunities.

As it is today, I’m in a season where those types of activities aren’t necessarily adding value to my days. Instead, little things, like going out to the grocery store, have the potential to set me back vs propel me forward.  So I’m learning to choose more wisely and it’s definitely a process!

My 2018 goal (starting now!) is to be more mindful and dig deeper in my relationship with God.  While cancer isn’t exactly what I may have chosen, it has given me the opportunity to focus more time on Him by not trying to balance a demanding and stressful full time job….HE is my full time job…and that is pretty darn amazing – not many get that opportunity!

If you’ve read my blog, the consistent thread has been my lack of consistency in writing. And writing is a big part of my relationship with God…to be vulnerable and transparent, and to share how He leads me daily to walk closer with Him.

If I had to choose ONE thing that propelled me into deepening my relationship with God, it was a little book you may be familiar with called The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. It is a 40-day Christian devotional designed to strengthen marriages.  No, I’m not married – I’m not even dating or in a relationship.  God brought me the book as a dare to strengthen my relationship with Him.  Weird? Odd? Perhaps.  But I hope you will follow me as I share, and possibly help,  precious readers do the same… coming soon… My Love Dare with God.

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