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.

All the “things”

Oh my! Check out this blog post by@revelationwellness

https://www.revelationwellness.org/2019/11/does-your-to-do-list-rule-you/

It’s such a wonderful & beautiful reminder of “I get to” from #RevelationWellness – so yes, my garage & closet are both overstuffed and in need of pruning… if I simply take the time to thank the Lord for all He’s provided, the ability & physical strength to go through things… I end up with precious time talking with my Savior and making way to pay His goodness & provision forward 🙌🏻

What “things” do you “get to do” today?

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 💖

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.

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10 Ways to Love

A couple years ago, Stephanie Ackerman of Documented Faith shared a post about Love…. not really anything new, right? But there was something new about it – at least to me! She took ten verses about Love and condensed each into 3 words and they remain on my fridge as a daily reminder about what Love is and isn’t. Click on the image to the right —->
to go to Stephanie’s original post and words of inspiration.

I last wrote about finding my rhythm Journaling in my daughter’s Bible and as I began creating art for this week’s entries, Stephanie’s 10 Ways to Love came to mind. Sure, it would’ve been easier to simply resize & print the art I created back then, but for me, that sort of negates the purpose of the art. For me, writing (or drawing!) helps connect my head and heart…a way of anchoring God’s Word in my soul.

So that’s how I’ve spent my Monday morning… using Stephanie’s 10 Ways to Love as a launchpad for the week ahead!

10 ways to love

 

How do these verses speak to you? As I was printing these to paste into my Bible, something struck me… and it may be obvious, but I realized I can’t really love this way without one common thread…. surrender.  Hmmmmm…sounds like another blog post to me!

Of course, I can’t talk about new art without sharing! Enjoy my take on 10 Ways to Love

 

 

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!