Latest posts by Emelda De Coteau (see all)
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- Living by Faith (Blog Series): Talking with Writer Kami Lingren - April 14, 2017
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!
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.
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:
Listen – On iTunes, GooglePlay and SoundCloud as The Liberated Heart Podcast