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 😉

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!

 

Joy in the Journey!

More often than not, folks will say,

“how do you do it? how do you stay so positive? how do you always seem to be so happy?”

The answer is truly simple and yet seemed so elusive most of my adult life….God worked very diligently to prepare me for a cancer journey!

In 2013,

  • my daughter endured two debilitating bouts of meningitis
  • I moved my dad to assisted living as Alzheimer’s was taking its devastating toll
  • my job went from crazy stress, to off the charts insane stress
  • I experienced the brink of physical and emotional collapse

Being soooooooo close to that edge, I knew something had to change….and that’s where God took my trust in Him to the “liberating place.” A place where I set aside my overly analytical mind. A place where He was my sole focus. A place where I confidently said goodbye to the corporate world where I was dying. A place where miracles happen.

It was a time when I had NO IDEA as to what was next and a time where I wasn’t scrambling to come up with a “plan” of my own. It was a time of the most wonderful peace I’d ever experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, the crazies were still present in 2014 – they just weren’t dictating my steps! It was a time when my feet didn’t move without God’s influence.

  • It was a time when I began experiencing serious pain with no idea as to the cause.
  • It was a time when I enjoyed visits with my dad and eventually said goodbye.
  • It was a time when my mom & stepdad came for a visit that resulted in them staying.
  • It was a time when my relationship with my oldest sister went to a new level as we spent countless hours together helping my other sister transition her life as we packed up my parents life in California.

With God as my focus and sole compass, I began seeing each day, each challenge, so differently. Anxiety diminished and peace reigned. I began to more fully receive God’s no matter what precious love!

So later that year, when the doctor said, “you have stage IV cancer that has spread extensively through your bones,” I didn’t panic. I knew God was still with me & prepared me for the battle ahead.

Have there been really tough days? Definitely. But God is faithful. He’s my go-to guy and gets me through every single challenge – every single day.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This past weekend I experienced a first – I attended a Bible Journalers group! I was like a kid in a candy shop for the first time – all these like-minded women in one place – at the same time – with more art goodies than I could ever imagine!

As we were about an hour in, the coordinator stopped by my table and asked what I was planning…. you would’ve thought she’d asked me to explain some vast scientific thoughts on the universe….of which I haven’t a clue!

I soon discovered that I’m really challenged to focus with so much external stimulation… granted I was probably a BIG distraction to others….I chatted incessantly…a combination of nerves and excitement…. but somehow God settled me long enough to create this page, which I now “see” as the preface to a Bible study by Lisa Harper on Job that I started this past Sunday – isn’t God grand??????

Sunday’s message is still filtering through to my heart…

Last night I started reading through Job – I may have read a verse or two before and knew the 50,000ft view (sort of)…. and as I read, it seemed as if Job certainly was affected by initial losses, but not dissuaded in his faith. Then in chapter in chapter 3, after the boils, loss & pain started taking it toll…

Pain & Circumstances….it’s something we’re all familiar with… when my focus is narrowed through my imperfect lens, I can’t focus to see what God is doing IN the circumstance.

For example,

– I have an aggressive type of cancer. check.

– I experience physical pain every single day. check.

Sure, I can get bogged down in the muck – I’m human! I have to nurture my Holy Habits – to KNOW and EXERCISE God’s promises…most importantly? BELIEVE His promises. God has promised my healing.period.

If my focus is constantly on ‘when’ or ‘how’ God’s healing will come, then I’m at risk to miss out on everything in between!

It’s the “in-between” where God shows Himself & is glorified

it’s the “in-between” where my relationships are enriched

it’s the “in-between” where I get to be extraordinarily grateful for sunrises & promises of a new day

it’s the “in-between” where I get to share His love in the midst of life’s storms

it’s the “in-between” where my love for Him grows with each breath…

Oh, precious readers…my prayer is that each of you experience and treasure the liberating place!

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Happy Friday!

For those of you following the study, My Love Dare with God, I wanted to post a quick update…  I am diligently working to catch up on audios – yes, I’m still behind, but steadily making headway!

So hop on over to the study My Love Dare with God or click on the Video/Audio link Video Links

imageimageToday is a really good “feel good” kinda day so I’m trying to get as many in as possible – they take a bit to upload, but by the end of the day I hope to post at least through day 21 (week 6)

 

Thank you again for your patience!

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