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.

Celebrate!

five years….FIVE years….60 months….260 weeks…1,820 days ago….I heard the words no one wants to hear…. “Ms Carr, You have cancer and it’s stage IV”

honestly, that feels like a lifetime ago and yet sometimes it’s at the forefront of my attention….

those close to me have heard me say more than once how cancer has been a blessing… crazy, right? how can there be ANYTHING good about cancer??????

oh, but there is! I am a living testimony that God will truly take every single situation…even the really sucky situations….use it all for good and I’m blessed to be a witness to His goodness.

don’t get me wrong, if I’d had a choice, I doubt I would’ve said, “sure! I’ll take on cancer!” but the choice wasn’t mine and here’s just some of the good:

  • I am confident God will deliver me!
  • grow my relationship with God deeper than I ever could’ve imagined
  • the medical community has advanced to target and treat my specific cancer
  • retired at age 55 vs 65 or 70
  • discovered a love for faith art and grew to share it with others
  • be available to take regular trips to see ‘my girl’ and extended family
  • write and share a Bible study

yeah….so I’m an optimist….I choose not to focus on the hard parts of cancer… and that’s not always heathy or easy… I also discovered its a huge part of being authentic…. it’s just as important to share the hard parts…

  • cancer is hard – really hard
  • cancer is painful….almost every.single.day.
  • cancer causes physical limitations you never dreamed of
  • cancer is relentless and certainly doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams
  • cancer is just.plain.mean

BUT GOD….

  • God provides a WAY when there seems no way!
  • God provides PEACE in a seemingly never ending storm…..
  • God provides COMFORT when the pain feels unbearable
  • God provides WISDOM and DISCERNMENT when you’re on information overload
  • God provides STRENGTH …spiritual – emotional – physical when you are tapped out
  • God provides HOPE and assurance of VICTORY that He will deliver me

bottom line? there are no guarantees in life…except one…to know and accept the salvation offered by my loving unchanging LORD and Savior 💖

Finding Your Rhythm

Last year when the new Illustrating Bible became available, I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend the money on something I didn’t need…. then a fellow journaler shared a special purchase price… I still didn’t need a new Bible, but boy oh boy did I want it!

For the past year I have been diligent in prayers for my daughter and her family. As newlyweds they face the typical struggles, and layered onto that, they now live 6hrs from our hometown…away from mama, family, and lifelong friends. And yes, mama still struggles missing her girl!

So….I justified the purchase to purposely journal thoughts and prayers in the new Bible specifically for my daughter and family… a living legacy Bible of sorts….

And then I began to suffer from ‘new Journaling Bible’ syndrome….. the purpose was overwhelmingly shadowed by thoughts of exactly what tone the art would take…. yes, TOTALLY missing the original purpose! What to do?

Pray. Wait. Trust.

Finally, this past weekend God showed me that it didn’t need to be one or the other…. simply keep my focus on Him! okay……but what does that picture look like? For me, it is now two God experiences…. art time and then Scripture/Prayer time.

For now, I plan to create digital artwork beforehand that I can print and then it will be ready for my prayer time over family…. it’s only been a few days, but thankfully it finally feels right! And even better, by creating the art digitally, I can easily share with others! Click on the link here —> Freebiesvalentine freebie
How we find our rhythm with God is just as unique each journey. What’s your rhythm? I’d love to hear from you!

Easy DIY Prayer Journal

In late 2018, I started participating in a local Bible Journaling group.  One of the things we do each month is share prayer requests.  I received a request for a young mom recently diagnosed with advanced breast cancer…. well, of course that struck a chord with my heart!  I decided to create a simple prayer journal to document my prayers and thoughts for her to have and fall back on during her cancer journey.img_8633I started  by combining pages I created for another journal  into a PDF file (click here —> prayer journal pages for your free pdf of journal pages!)

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I trimmed the printed pages (double-sided prints) as shown in the photo to the right –>

If you like, you can only trim the outer edges (equal to top margins)…. that’s probably what I’ll do going forward – since these pages are perfectly aligned, it eliminates frustrations 🙂

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I used scrapbook paper to create the cover, but you can use anything – whatever appeals to you!

For a quick and easy way to  get the right cover size, I simply placed one of the trimmed pages on top of the scrapbook paper and scootched it over about 1/4″-1/2″,  marked the corners and trimmed with my paper cutter

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I folded the trimmed pages in half, added the cover, and stapled in the middle.  If you don’t have a long reach stapler, you can also punch a hole at each end and bind with thread, ribbon, or elastic.

The rest is about documenting your thoughts and prayers!  In the first journal, I added artwork & embellishments  here and there…

It can be as simple or elaborate as you like…

Check out some freebies I’ve shared previously —> FREEBIES

Also, a good FB friend has a FABULOUS Etsy shop with loads of faith printables – the link to her shop is right here —> Praise and Pray

Do what feels right to you – good luck!

 

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Pure Joy

It’s difficult to describe just how good it feels to celebrate God’s faithfulness every.single.day. so I thought I’d just show it instead! God is really moving! Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared a devotional & words of encouragement faith art (below) at a local pregnancy center, I’ve been asked to lead a faith art session at an upcoming women’s retreat, AND I’ve been asked to create faith art coloring pages for a children’s ministry!

Isn’t God grand? Gosh….even the word grand doesn’t begin to describe God! The latter part of 2017 and early part of 2018 were more challenging as the trickle-down effects of cancer and its treatments wreaked havoc on my lungs, but God still has work for me to do! Thankfully, I’m feeling much, much better these days and pleased to report current scans & markers show the cancer remains stable! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

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The thing is, God has a plan that far exceeds anything I could dream up for myself…. the desire to create faith are came as a byproduct of cancer, and the  opportunities to share God’s love through art came before I received results of my latest scans… I didn’t hesitate to accept because…

I know God’s got this!

This past year, I’ve learned to live like I am always HIS and not just after He proves I’m His in a particular situation…. does that make any sense? In other words, I don’t wait until I see proof of His faithfulness to step forward….

Today I attended a Bible Journaling Group: H.I.S. (Houston’s Illustrating Sisterhood) and we discussed the perils of spiritual amnesia – God is ALWAYS at work and ALWAYS working for the best in our lives…especially when it may not “feel” that way!

Living in gratitude is a choice and testifying to the daily miracles of faithfulness He is working in our lives is a must!

 

My Love Dare with God – Week 12

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Can it really be the last week??????  For some, you may be thinking, “FINALLY!” — but can I share something really incredible?  After this week, you will have the gift of seeing this particular piece of the puzzle…. a bag full of tools that can help you seize more opportunities to love…. to boldly go thru doors and let God’s love be known to others in a powerful way.  This is Living My Love Dare with God… but first things first…. let’s work through Week 12

Dare days 38 – 40  – we continue with topics that are a deeper, as they directly focus on our relationship with God

This week we take a look at how Love

  •  Fulfills Dreams – seeking God for direction  and leaning on God to open your heart to the beauty of dreams
  • Endures – the no matter what kind of love
  • is a Covenant – not a contract and so much more than a promise

 

My Love Dare with God – Week 12

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