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 

 

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

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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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

Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

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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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.