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

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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 

 

Living by Faith (Blog Series): Talking with Writer Kami Lingren 

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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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I met Kami on Instagram, and instantly connected to the beauty of her words; we have become fast friends. The grace she flows in as she heals from a chronic illness is incredibly inspiring. Her social media feeds and blog are daily reminders to walk and live in gratitude for the beauty around us. She has such a heart for people, and cultivating community. I am sure you will enjoy the courageous honesty and depth she shares with us about her faith journey.

Kami Lingren, Writer and Blogger

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

As a child I always believed that God was my friend. I would talk to him all the time, about the silly things and about my dreams. I thought of him as kind and loving, but yet my ever-conservative Christian church’s theology would sometimes clash with this deeply spiritual connection I felt to him.

As a born planner, I was drawn to structure. So growing up in an environment littered with rules and expectations I found myself following along. First to respect the rules, and second because I thought that must be how you get closer to God. But the harder I tried to stay within the lines while also feeling pulled to be a compassionate and loving human, the more I struggled with anxiety over my faith. I felt I would never fully be “enough”.

Throughout these past few years of facing severe health challenges God’s felt more distant. The harder I tried to find him in the ways I had before, the further he would feel. So since my old ways of experiencing God and faith was causing more grief, shame and frustration than healing and comfort, I began giving myself space to wrestle. I started asking a lot of really hard, honest questions.

And in the midst of living the hell-on-earth experience it’s been as I’ve fought for healing – and very literally, my life – I’ve longed for something more. Something deeper. Something less by-the-book and more authentically connected to who I believe God is. And how I want to live in reflection of that.

For me, my relationship with God looks different than it ever has. And I’m okay with that. I’m still wrestling. Wrestling with what I believe about God and how this new faith journey will unfold for me. 

But what keeps me pressing onward is this realm of peace I’ve encountered in the unknown. Something that I never fully had in “I’ve figured this out” land. For now my heart holds on to an image of God and I hand-in-hand, him gently listening while together we move forward. And that is a journey – and relationship – I can comfortably embrace.

Photo Credit: Daiga Ellaby

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 think one of the most effective ways I fill up before sharing my journey with readers is taking in nature. Whether that’s gazing at the hills while taking my dog out for a break or going for a drive with my husband, I try to soak in the moment. I take in the colors, the hills, the horizon and I try to quiet my mind.

Meditation is newer for me, but I’ve been trying to do it once daily. I love it so much! It’s incredibly soul-healing and calming. I now believe it’s something our bodies desperately need – and crave – if we’re really paying attention. It’s not easy to quiet the mind or be still when you’ve adopted an idea that being productive means you have to be active. (Ahem, hand raised.)

Photo Credit: Arkady Lifshits

My health challenges have stretched me a lot in this idea of resting versus resting well. So these practices encourage me to carve out time for restorative rest. The kind that leads to deeper healing, inspiration, and even connection with God.

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

With how my spiritual journey has changed, I am recognizing God more – and more deeply – in the small things. In the beauty of a neighbor’s flowers. The playfulness of my dog. I feel his love in the embrace of my husband on a really hard health day. I hear him speaking to me in the kindness of a friend. I experience his goodness through words of truth or encouragement or the creativity of someone else.

And I see his words and character in action in advocacy for justice, attitudes of inclusion, hearts that embrace others that may be different than them. For me it’s become a practice of mine to look for him outside of the ordinary. In recognizing he is present in even what’s deemed ‘the mundane’ I’m discovering that he can be found/heard beyond our preconceived boundaries.

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

If I could, I’d love to sit down with you in some cozy chairs together at a coffee bar. We’d sip our drinks and I’d gently share these words with you: embrace grace in your journey, friend. In your seeking, give yourself space to be human. In your questioning, allow yourself to sit with any unknowns you encounter.

And for the moments you ever feel overwhelmed with doubt or frustration? Girl, give yourself permission to sit in the uncomfortable and recognize it’s all part of the process…of just about everything!

Our relationship with God isn’t going to look the same for any one of us and there is comfort in accepting the reality that that’s okay.

Keep up with Kami:

Blog: http://www.livinggraceblog.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/kamilingren19

Twitter: http://twitter.com/livinggraceblog

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kamichristina

Living by Faith (Blog Series): Podcaster Cassandra N. Vincent of The Liberated Heart 

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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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This Q&A series, “Living by Faith,” is the beginning of conversations on the blog with other creatives whose words and work moves me. For the month of April, each Friday, the focus is on faith. During May you’ll find the series turns to chats with folks making an impact in inspiration, ending with activism in June.

I met Cassandra Vincent, host of The Liberated Heart and the Vision + Strategy brunch (curated #Baltimore-based quarterly meet up supporting women as they learn, connect, and grow together) on Instagram. Her feed overflows with gems from the Bible.  I thought it would be amazing to hear more about her daily walk with God. Her insights are such an inspiration. Enjoy!

Cassandra Vincent Host of The Liberated Heart

 

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

I’d say my experience with God has always been relationship driven. From an early age, like 8 or 9, I would hear God tell me to lay hands on my mother, and pray for certain things.

Now I will say that in my God experience there have absolutely been stages of exponential growth where my understanding of love from God has boosted, and discovering Him more clearly has taken place.

For example, I was raised in the church. While as a child I have vivid memories of times when God would speak to me, I also can look back and realize how for a period, like during middle school and high school, my experience was more driven by routine, and being instructed by my parents to be in church like ALL THE TIME.

While I’m thankful, so very thankful for my parents lovingly rearing my siblings and I in church, I soon realized by the time I hit college that I really wanted a deeper relationship with God  – not one where I knew Him second handedly. Meaning, around the end of my sophomore year in college, I realized much of what I knew and had experienced of Jesus, God and Holy Spirit was what I saw and knew of through my parents example. Not bad, but I needed to really experience God one-on-one, more deeply.


Fast forward to my next growth spurt and major ‘deeper in faith/relationship’ stage in my life, would have been in the last two years. After a really hurtful breakup, that actually served as a conduit of sorts, and really opened my eyes and heart to another stage of deepening my relationship and faith in Jesus Christ.

In this this past year or so, my faith has  grown from a place where I was really depressed and hurt grew a deeper relationship and reliance upon God.
Also, a lot of old religious mental blocks and past practices have been removed from my life. Before now, I had some really poor mindsets about my faith journey–such as believing would never progress, and that God was “making me wait” for things that I’d been praying for. My mindset was just not the best. I was really limited in my understanding of God.

I believe it has to do with old walls and unhealthy self-developed beliefs and systems [which] have been broken and removed from my life such as negative talk and thinking. I used to be really really hard on myself and negative self talk was chronic in my life.

Those types of things have been utterly destroyed, and I’ve been liberated through a deepening of my faith in the finished works of Jesus Christ in my life. Yeah, I could go on, but that’s little of what I describe as how I have come to be in a full relationship with Jesus, and not just practicing some religious routine or obligatory worship.

Like, I really love Jesus based on what I read in His word, Holy Spirit speaking to me, and being taught the word of truth weekly through my local assembly.

Before sharing your journey of faith with readers, how do you prepare – prayer, meditation, worship music, etc.?

Well I journal, reflect, and talk to God a LOT. So I would say I do all of the above. Often times in my journaling I discover a message or lesson that God has put before me multiple times, and then I realize it’s something to be shared. I’m inspired by God always and that normally leads to me creating/writing, etc.


How have these practices grown you in both your walk with God and the craft of writing? 

So as a new podcaster, I think I’ve grown in embracing the gifts that God has given me. I believe the practices of preparation for creating/curating/writing, etc. are extensions of these ‘practices’.

I mean in prayer, learning and study of scripture, you can’t help but grow. I will say that the area I’ve really grown in is personal integrity and humility. I take very seriously that as a woman of faith I can’t go with trends, and even sometimes not [use]  a content calendar.


And that’s not just an excuse, sometimes, especially as a podcaster, which is speaking and sharing the word of faith, you can schedule that content. Sometimes, the word of encouragement needs to be shared like in that moment (of course with the leading and green light from God).

So again I’d say I’ve really grown in the area of humility and personal integrity. Because in praying, meditating, studying the word before sharing a message with readers has made me realize I am accountable to those same souls and to God.

In the book of James (3:1),  it speaks of those who share [teach] and that [they] are held to a higher standard — that if I have not been with God and I am sharing (writing, podcasting, etc.) and I’m teaching (sharing) wrongly and incorrectly — then I am held accountable for that.


I think that’s why those ‘practices’ are important before sharing on our platforms (social media and all) as people of faith. We have to be mindful that whether we realize it or not, if we are sharing and writing it can be (in some ways, in many ways) teaching. Or maybe that’s how I see it, which could be the case because that is also one of my gifts from God.

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

In my daily life, I hear God all the time. And when I feel like I don’t hear I think it’s because my inner voice or fear or doubt is “drowning” or overshadowing God’s voice in that moment. I hear God speaking to me simply — through scriptures, through interactions with people, through Holy Spirit’s guidance and His ministering to me (Holy Spirit absolutely ministers to our souls all day long, day in and day out.)

God speaks to me a lot during inner conversations, which I suppose are my inner prayers. Like I feel as if my soul, my spirit, is always in prayer mode, if that makes sense. I’m one of those people who have like so many questions before God. Like I want to know His heart and thoughts about everything.


But I’m also naturally like that, very inquisitive, extremely intrigued by others and their stories. So I’m like that with God,  always curious and wondering [about] His thoughts so as a result I feel like I’m always having a conversation with God, and so I hear God in that way often.

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

Let go of all that you think God is mad about or what He finds wrong with you. It’s the very opposite. Because of Jesus’ beautiful sacrifice we can be like Him, and let go and give our expectations to God just like Jesus did.

A great way to not feel overwhelmed and intimidated is to focus on goodness, love, and all the amazing things God says about you. One of the things that has helped me tremendously in not being overwhelmed by this faith journey was by focusing on and agreeing with who God is and who He says I am. My agreement with God has changed my life.

When I was younger I was intimidated and overwhelmed by “getting everything right”, by my sins, by so many things I really did not need to be concerned with. When I stay God focused, grace-focused and keep a healthy and holy perspective and respect for God — I am so liberated!

Being overwhelmed normally lends to the fact that we are overwhelmed by our inabilities or capabilities to uphold perfection in our own strength. However, when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by God’s amazing grace and love we begin to believe the impossible and believe in the power that God has given us to live an abundant and blessed life.

My advice is to stay love/God-focused and that’s where you will grow from –  love versus obligations, religion and overwhelm or intimidation. Only Love is found in God toward us. God is not mad at you.

Stay Connected to Cassandra N. Vincent: 

The Liberated Heart podcast

Listen – On iTunes, GooglePlay and SoundCloud as The Liberated Heart Podcast

@theliberatedheart (Instagram) 

The Liberated Heart podcast (Facebook)