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

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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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) 

6 Things You Can Do Now to Reclaim Your Joy 

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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Graphic via Mallory Cruz’s blog

Years ago I heard a minister say don’t wish for happiness because it’s based on happenings, instead seek joy.

One of my good friends and I talked this week about some of our frustrations, and she mentioned how exhausting social media  becomes – managing your profile, keeping up with comments, but mostly she despises how miserable she feels after looking at everyone’s seemingly ideal lives. But are they perfect? Not really.

No one, no matter how intelligent, beautiful, or wealthy escapes issues or struggles. Some folks are just better at camouflaging.

Our conversation and my own week (an emotionally rocky one) prompted me to consider reclaiming joy, and what simple things (starting with 6) we can all do throughout our day-to-day lives.

Here are my thoughts: 

1. Practice Gratitude – Staying grateful (especially during difficulties) is transformational. It’s an instant mood elevator. My bestie Shan and I discussed this last night.

I believe what we focus on expands, so looking towards our blessings and thanking God for them ushers in more abundance (whether it’s through finances, relationships, etc.)

And when we put it into practice daily we permanently shift our mentality to a higher vibration.

2. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else – Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the theif of joy.” Ever since I heard those words years ago, I held on to their power. Each one of us is at different places, and stopping to compare ourselves to others only breeds misery. Focus on your unique gifts, your voice, and you will illuminate the world.

Photo Credit: Roksolana Zasiadko

3. Take Regular Social Media Breaks & Filter  –  Our brains are miraculous, but there are limitations. They can only hold so much. Sometimes, actually quite often, we need a break from the incessant rate of images and text bombarding us on social media platforms.

No one says you have to scope, tweet, etc. everyday. And if you’re one of those folks who compares your life to others (or the version they show us), all the more reason to step away for a minute (particularly if you are in a tough season).

Filter what you ingest, too. Skip  dismal news stories some days, or debating with someone of an opposing political or religious view. I am not advocating living in a bubble, but we have to know what we can tolerate on an energetic level. It’s really that simple.

4. Rest –  I know this is a tough one, but your body and mind will thank you. I usually have to force myself to sleep, but when I do, the next morning I am much more capable of taking on the world.

As a Mom, I know there are times when it’s particularly challenging. Work towards devoting small chunks of time throughout the day   (5, 10 or 15 minutes, etc.) for rest, and do absolutely nothing.

My good friend Michelle over at Surviving a Creative Life is excellent at reminding me to take breaks and rest. I think accountability partners are key in this whole commitment to rest. Have someone in your life challenge you when you’re not resting enough, and then listen. Rest.

5. Take in Natural Beauty – Sounds easy but in the age of iPhones, Androids and other electronic devices this is difficult for many of us. Go for a walk, take a long drive, mediate in the park; allow the beauty surrounding you to nourish your spirit.

Photo Credit: Shannon Braxton

6. Read or Listen to an Inspiring Story Misty Copeland, Bessie Coleman, Lisa Nichols, Angela Davis and countless other women inspire me with their determination and strength. In pieces of their story, I see my own.

Bessie Coleman, pioneer aviator. In 1922, she became the first African-American woman to stage a public flight in America.

I am reminded that no struggle is eternal and I am equipped to walk and live in joy!

🔽

How do you reclaim your joy? Don’t be shy. 🙂 Share in the comments.

How Gratitude Is Helping Me Grow

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 Credit: Natasha Vasiljeva

Most of us think of gratitude in November, just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, afterwards we tuck it away like a worn sweater whose use has long since passed.

I am coming to learn gratitude is a daily practice, as it helps us see the world anew, perhaps connecting with beauty in hard places, or appreciating the miraculous wonders within the mundaneness of life.

The other day, suddenly, I felt weary, the sadness of some challenges facing my family took root, and a kind of emotional paralysis emerged. Only Nai and I were home, as she watched a little morning cartoons, while I read about healing.

I decided to call a church for prayer. The Pastor’s warm voice immediately placed me at ease; he asked what led me to reach out. I simply cried. In between sobs, I heard him ask me something no one ever had on a prayer line: What are you thankful for?

I quickly rambled off my family, and he firmly nudged me to “keep going.” “We’re celebrating  God’s faithfulness right now.” As I continued declaring the blessings (a home, doing what I love, a fulfilling marriage, etc.) my despair slowly eviscerated.

Again, later that week, God revealed the importance of gratitude through a new blogging friend, Afrotastic Lady on Instagram. She posted her gratitude list for the month of January, and I thought why not join in and share mine with you all. 

These six blessings are guideposts on this renewed commitment to thankfulness in all areas of my life. 

1. God’s Grace  – We are all undeserving of His grace and yet it is freely given – whether we are loosing our patience with the kiddos or hubby (yeah that’s me on lots of days, y’all), crying out of sheer exhaustion, or panicking over something trivial, God’s grace remains. Our besties, parents, husbands, kids, no one can do this for you and I – only God. 

2. The light of Nai’s Smile – Her smile illuminates the darkest of moments; all the world disintegrates when my eyes meet hers. Our daughter is a gift from God, and I thank Him for her each day.

3. Enduring Love – My husband, family, and friends teach me love endures, transcends time and space, past and present. It’s boundless, if we are faithful and committed to cultivating it within our own hearts. 

4. Friendship – Casual friendships do not exist for me. We are either in this until the wheels fall off, or mannerly acquaintances. 

God blessed me with amazing friends, women who are my sisters. Our conversations and laugher are a continuum of joy; we support each others dreams and comfort one another through sorrow and disillusionment. Chel, Shan, Qiana, Amelia, Shelly and Dionne, I am grateful to call you sisters.

5. Solitude –  I barely pee alone most days (toddler Mom life), so getting a few minutes to myself is rare. Those two hours Nai naps most days renew me in ways I never imagined. There is beauty in stillness.

6. Organic Fruit Smoothies – Okay, this sounds silly, right? But seriously, y’all, I get my whole entire life on organic smoothies I make every morning. Forget coffee and tea, this is the way I jumpstart the day! 


Love to hear what you are thankful for this month in the comments. Come on, don’t be shy!