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 ☺️

Pray Anyway

Creative Hearts Paper Studio

How many times have you found yourself in a situation and at a total loss for words? Prayer can be the same way! The great thing is that God doesn’t need an eloquent prayer to meet our needs… He knows our heart and only wants us to trust Him enough to turn to Him with our hopes, our dreams, our cares, and our scares.

A couple years ago my daughter and I began talks of opening an Etsy shop – she had dreams of custom paper designs – invitations, party designs and such. I had thoughts of sharing Faith art… like many plans, life pushed those ideas to the back burner….

I still had a desire to share Faith art and chose to create projects with one of our church outreach ministries, art for the children’s program, and a few other projects here and there. But I was never brave enough to pursue the Etsy shop on my own… truth be told, I was afraid…. afraid of rejection – now isn’t that silly?

I so easily bypassed all the truths I knew and jumped straight to failure. Once again, I stuffed God on the shelf and decided, albeit unconsciously, to sit out on a dream instead of trusting God to do what was best for me.

Thankfully, God is ever patient! He coaxes me closer and closer showing me time and again that He is trustworthy. He is faithful. The success of the Etsy shop has nothing to do with acceptance, rejection, or sales. The success is about sharing God’s Word – His Truths – His Love. My job? It’s simple: obedience.

And so I’ve taken the first step! I opened the Etsy store yesterday and shared a few pieces of art…stay tuned to see what God does with a little obedience.

What’s on your heart? What have you put off praying about and trusting God for? You don’t need the perfect words or plan. All you need to start is an open heart willing to share and trust in Him.

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 💖

The Face of Faith

Early Sunday, my church family learned of a tragic accident and loss of a beloved member, wife, mother, friend….

While I didn’t personally know Mary, I knew of her as a cherished Believer. The shockwaves through our congregation are palpable as many struggle to understand…. her husband Marc, is in the fight of his life as he sustained numerous injuries. Their precious children were delivered from the accident physically unscathed… so many broken pieces of their lives to somehow be pieced back together…

At some point in our lives, we have or will face similar trials… we will experience the pain of a seemingly untimely death of a loved one… a terminal illness diagnosis… physical loss…. emotional loss… financial loss…. LOSS in some form or fashion…

My nephew posted on Facebook today and his words were so impactful, I felt led to share….

I have to admit, I don’t understand God. But I also confess that despite that confusion, and perhaps anger… I cling even more to my faith in Him. My faith that through the brokenness He will be there. He has power to bring some good from it. I do not believe He caused it, nor that He “wanted” it. But I know that He “allowed” it. And that is where my frustration lies. I don’t know everything, so I defer to His wisdom, His goodness. Even though I don’t understand, His character is still the same. His integrity is still there. His glory still shines. So I will praise Him and serve Him the rest of the days He allows me to remain on this earth. And on that day that He calls me home. I will reunite with my friend in the presence of God. And no pain, no tears, no sadness will ever be experienced again. It will all be okay in the end. If it isn’t okay… it isn’t the end.

— Mike Gonzalez

This life is fleeting…. if you take away anything, hug your babies….your spouse…. your loved ones…. show kindness regardless of the circumstances … love like Jesus

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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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