Living by Faith (Blog Series): Writer Christina of The Whole Cook

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Christina’s Instagram feed overflows with yummy recipes, adorable kiddos, a handsome hubby, and oh those totally relatable Mama posts.  She’s with us in the trenches of toys, diapers and sippy cups. But she is also a woman of deep faith and conviction. I love how Christina encourages us to delve deeper into the Bible and develop an authentic relationship with Christ in her interview. Grab your chai or tea and enjoy!

Christina Shoemaker Writer | Blogger of The Whole Cook blog

Everyone of us must discover faith for ourselves. When did it move from religion to relationship for you? 

I was raised in the church so I’ve always had what I thought was faith in God. I called myself a Christian. I now know that being a participant in church doesn’t make you a Christian. I didn’t know God. Not really. I knew and loved the idea of God. It wasn’t until adulthood though that I truly began to have a relationship with our Lord.

It happened when I began to really study His Word rather than relying simply on the messages a pastor or author might convey. It was through study that I realized I had never really known God or His big beautiful plan. It took falling into the pages of the Bible to fall in love with Him. I devote a lot of my blog to sharing that experience and trying to teach others how to study the Bible.

Before sharing your journey of faith with readers, how do you prepare – prayer, meditation, worship music, etc.? How have these practices grown you in both your walk with God and the craft of writing?

I pray before I start writing out Bible Studies for the blog. We are responsible for what we teach and how we represent Him so I pray for wisdom. I pray for the right words. I pray that He uses me however He chooses to use me. I pray that I fulfill whatever part He’d have me play in His plan.

How do you hear God speaking to you in daily life? 

I believe that God gave us His teachings in the Bible and that it’s through the Bible that we can best hear Him. Often I find myself struggling with a situation or question in my daily life. I pray about it and then I seek the answer in the Bible. I find it without fail. Sometimes it surprises me but I know that this isn’t coincidence. He gives us everything we need in His Word if we’ll only seek Him there.

What advice do you have for readers who want to deepen their relationship with God but feel overwhelmed or intimidated by it all? 

I’d say that to have a true relationship with God you have to be an active participant in that relationship. You can’t just sit in a church pew and listen to someone else describe their own impression of Him. You can’t just make requests of God while you’re in bed at night. You have to listen to Him. You have to pursue Him. You have to live your life in His will.  So where can we find his words and His will? How can we pursue Him? The answer is simple. Study the Bible. He tells us repeatedly that we are to know His Word. His answers are there just waiting for us. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the book or the sometimes confusing language. Set aside time everyday. Start at the beginning.

Work through it chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Use The Companion Bible and The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance so that you know you’re getting the best translation possible. Ask God to grant you understanding and just take it one step at a time.

If you’re struggling with a stale prayer life I bet you’ll see this dramatically change the more you spend time in His Word. Suddenly you’ll find yourself in regular conversation with our Lord.

You’ll start to piece together what’s happening in this world today. You’ll feel less fear and more joy even the midst of the things around us because you’ll know that He is in charge. He holds His people in the palm of His hand. What more could we want?

 

Connect with Christina on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 

 

Listening for God’s Voice in Hard Times 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Artwork by Alyson Nailah Designs

Recently, fellow Our Words Collaborative writer, Ari Heick, wrote about the word God gave her for 2016, “relentless,” and how she is coming to understand this in a more expansive way: “God will answer my prayers and will fight all my battles for me. I need only to be still. I need only to be relentless in my pursuit of Him. I can let go of everything else without any guilt or shame. I am who God created me to be and there is no condemnation in that. I will release my worries to God. I will stop striving. I will stop trying to fix things or control things…”

Her devotional resonated deeply, and also reminded me of God’s word for us this year – breakthrough. He revealed it on a crisp autumn day. Mom and I drove with Nai to The Healing Rooms in Chevy Chase, MD. We were seeking prayer and healing for her. You see, the words do not always flow easily for our little one. She struggles to express herself verbally and for the past few years, as we cheer her on in speech and occupational therapy, we pray for deliverence, the complete unlocking of her voice.

This journey teaches us daily to embrace compassion, and see not with earthly eyes but spiritual ones, pressing through with unshakable faith. Often, friends, the experiences you and I label “mundane” such as conversations and self expression are miracles for others.

And so, on this brisk Saturday, a beautiful young African woman with skin the color of mahogany, ran up to us after our prayer, as Nai bounced around on the church playground, and insisted with quiet conviction, “God has a word for you all – it is breakthrough.” While the volunteers were praying for us, she said, “I prayed, too.” God had told her a breakthrough was coming not only for our precious Nai, but the entire family. Immediately, I ran and told Mom, my voice overcome with ecstatic delight, and soon after I texted my husband and two sisters, ending each sentence with exclamation points and joyful emojis.

For months I held on to this word, and then life, in all of its unjust fury, nearly trampled us. Frequent setbacks in various areas threaten to obscure our vision, but still, we press on and believe. Not long ago, I discovered a beautiful song by gospel singer and pastor Travis Greene, “The Hill.” Towards the end as he recounts several astounding testimonies, he says something which I now hold close to my heart: “Trust God too much to give up.”

Whatever word or purpose God has given you, friends, do not release it, pull it closer to you and declare this promise over every area of your life. Mom often reminds me, particularly during periods of frustration or despair, God must do a work in us and this takes time. Perhaps instead of a large breakthrough, in His infinite grace, God creates a series of breakthroughs, growing us spiritually, situation by situation, moment by moment.

One day while reading the book of Luke (18: 1-8), I discovered a persistent woman and in her tenaciousness and grit, I see myself. Maybe you find yourself in her as well? She is the widow who presses the judge relentlessly for a solution:

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Mancomes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Do not lose heart, no matter how large the mountain looms, or what the doctor gloomily reports. Above all, beloveds, believe God, for He alone is faithful and will deliver each of us from many obstacles, transforming them into opportunities for His presence to become magnified.

Prayer: 

Dear Lord,

Help me to shut out every voice and listen only for yours. Allow my days to be guided by your wisdom and direction, not consumed by worry and fear. Let me hear your words in nature, through people I meet, and allow me to see others as you see them – liberated and whole.

Open my heart to your grace, and forgive me for succumbing to weariness. I speak Jeremiah 29:11 over every challenge I encounter: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In Jesus mighty name, I pray, Amen.

Previously published at Our Words Collaborative where I am a monthly contributor, along with a tribe of other writers.

Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: From Iyanla Vanzant to Self Care 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo via Eharmony

One of my favorite writers / thinkers Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday making me laugh and throwing some wisdom all at the same time! Her latest book is Trust.

Do you struggle with faith, particularly in seasons of difficulty? I pray this post from my new IG blogging friend, Tiffany Parry, “When Sunday Feels Broken,” lifts you up, and reminds you, we’re all in this walk together.

Helpful blog post on everyday ways to reward yourself after accomplishing goals. Self care is a critical part of our own growth.

This rich dialogue with Barabara Smith and other dynamic women on black feminism, the LGBT community and the black lives matter movement.

Oh Lianne La Havas, your music makes my heart soar! “Unstoppable” is such a sunny-day, open-your-sunroof kinda song!

Positivity starts in the first 15 minutes of our day. Short but insightful blog post!