Several years ago, I decided to pick a “word” for the year.
At the time, life seemed a little bit on the chaotic side. Who am I kidding – that’s all the time! I had a 9-month-old waking up several times every night and a 4 year old son who was testing all kinds of boundaries, and I was still trying to figure out this normal in our growing family. Finding a way to make all the demands fit together was a bit more than I could handle. I’m sure none of you can relate to a chaotic life, right? Right when you feel like you get a grasp on anything, it begins to change and slip through your hands again.
Well, when all of the crazy seemed to be enveloping me, I decided to pray about a WORD for my year. Now ya’ll, this kind of prayer can be scary. You start to realize that the Lord is about to speak to you. Yikes! You better hold on!
After a couple days of thinking and praying, there was one word that seemed to float to the top of all of my thoughts… TRUST. Yep, the big scary TRUST word. Now, the Lord knows this about me but I will let you all in on a little secret about myself….I have a hard time with trust. Not trust issues that stem from people hurting me but more of a controlling kind of trust. Like I can do it better kind of trust. I know the right way to do something kind of trust. Ew, just typing that out makes me feel ridiculous. (Thank you, Lord, so much for my amazing, patient husband. See ya’ll, the Lord knows what we need!)
So there it was, my word for the year – TRUST. I kept thinking, I need to put on my big girl panties and buckle up!
Now when I consider how trust fits in with the rest of my life, I see it as the result of a couple other things that are also hard:
Trust is an acceptance of things that the Lord sends my way, whether I like it or not. And in my mind this has everything to do with faith.
Faith is trusting that the Lord has my back and is taking care of me. The Lord knows what I need before I ask or even when I don’t ask. How great is that? SO GREAT!! (also a little unnerving for me) and when I can really begin to grasp the link of trust and faith, it brings me a great deal of peace.
Peace can often feel like a deep heavy sigh. Whew! But let me tell you, the fear and anxiety leading up to that peace is really hard to fight through. I actually have this tattooed on my wrist. It reminds me that remembering to be at peace with the Lord’s plan and trusting in the faith that I believe – even when that seems most impossible – is completely necessary. It’s worth the internal battle!
In this verse that I illustrated, I am so drawn to the word “understanding.” I am often reminded in life that trusting the Lord, despite not understanding, is faith. Belief in that faith that the Lord has got me, offers a huge dose of peace. WHEW! Often times things happen that are not a part of my plan, but I can rest assured that they happen according to His plan!
What word has God been helping you to better understand?
I have recently finished Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love. Ladies, I am a changed woman! I am so thankful I was able to start and finish this entire book, because I rarely see the last chapter of books of my choice these days. It is funny and honest and authentic and AMAZING.
I can really see that the Lord is going to do some big things in the people who read Jen’s words. Please move it to the top of your reading list. You won’t regret it!
While reading through it recently, one tiny little phrase left a longing mark on my heart. She casually mentions “a Sacred Home.” She doesn’t even go into any detail on what that means to her. The context was a just a brief mention of the phrase. But when I read those words, my heart leaped! I took the words from their context and put them right into the context of my life. And I believe that my home will be forever changed. What a perfect goal, right? To have a Sacred Home!
I did a little bible journaling on my Sacred Home discovery!
I began to write down all the things that came to my mind when I pictured a Sacred Home. Immediately, I thought of dear friends of mine who have that aura, that beautiful spirit when I am in their home.
What does it look like, feel like? My list began to look something like this: peaceful, calm, forgiving, love, gentle, God… As I stared at my list a lightbulb went off in my head almost immediately–THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT! A Sacred Home is a home where I, my family, and any guests can see and feel the fruit!
Can it be that simple, Lord? “Yes, simple–but not easy” was His answer! Of course, I already try and make my house these things but until now I never made the connection to the fruit. So of course it isn’t easy. If it were easy then everyone would love and never want to leave their peaceful home!
By definition the word sacred means “devotedordedicatedtoadeityortosomereligiouspurpose; consecrated; pertaining toorconnectedwithreligion.” I love this. Literally, having a sacred home means living in a place that is dedicated to our purpose as Christians! Oh my stars…what a dream, right!
My dear friend Jillian says this about her home:
It is so important for me to have scripture–whether quickly jotted down on an index card or a beautiful piece of art–everywhere. They are constant reminders to me to get my attitude in check. Since sitting down and reading scripture is so difficult to do sometimes, I make it to where I can meditate on it while doing dishes, washing my hands, folding laundry, walking in and out of the house, etc.
My prayer for us, dear reader, is that we can find the fruit in our day. The Lord has given us all the fruit of the spirit. We ALREADY HAVE love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control inside us. But we must remember to access it. We don’t need to pray for patience, we already possess it. We don’t need to pray for gentleness, it’s already running through our veins. I usually forget that, right? So on days when it seems like you don’t have any goodness left, remember that the Lord has already supplied you with enough.
So, a Sacred Home…a home dedicated to my amazing Lord in Heaven, where living out the Fruit makes my days a little lighter, and a little deeper, and a whole lot more like Christ.
As a gift, I created a bit of scripture art for your home to get you going! Enjoy!
If you have any ideas that help you center your home around Christ, please share them with us!
My favorite season is fall, and I am so beyond thrilled that it seems to be knocking on our door! Just as January brings a fresh start with a new year, I feel the same way about fall. Maybe it is because I have started a new school year in the fall for most of my life and now my children’s lives.
During this season of change, I feel the Lord working in me. I feel Him tugging at my heart to change some things in my life. Isn’t it hard to listen to that voice? Even though I love the fall, change is hard for me.
Seasons are Meant to Pass
I knew I wanted to do a fall-themed Bible journaling entry for you guys, so I went on the search to pair my fall inspiration with a verse I connected with. When I came across Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 I knew it was perfect. By reading this passage, I realized that there are all types of seasons and phases in life. Seasons are meant to pass, not to linger. When I feel stuck, I look for the healing phase to come.
For everything there is a season, anda time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time todie;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time toweep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time tocast away stones, and a time togather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time tolose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time totear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time tohate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)
acrylic paint and black pen
Make the Sandwich
Something my husband and I say when we need to make some changes is, “We need to go into the kitchen and make the sandwich.” This is based on an illustration we heard once: “If you ask the Lord for a sandwich, He will feed you. He will not make food magically appear. You must go into the kitchen and make the sandwich.”
Perhaps it’s kind of silly, but for me this works in so many areas of my life. Maybe I want to lose some weight. God won’t do the exercise for me–I have to! Or I want to eat healthier. God won’t cook the veggies for me–I have to! Maybe I want to be a more present mother. God isn’t going to turn my phone off–I have to! I want to start a women’s Bible study. God isn’t going to invite people–I have to! Be sure and ask yourself these questions regarding the seasons in your life…especially the last one 😉
Do you feel stuck in a rut, ready for the next season of your life?
Are you ready to do your part to make the change happen?
Do you feel like the Lord is using you and your story to speak relief into someone else’s season?
P.S. Have you started your Bible Journaling adventure? We would love to hear about it!
I always, ALWAYS get nervous when I am about to do a Bible journaling class/workshop or lesson of any sort. It doesn’t matter if it is for friends that I have known for years or a small group of five new friends. But this full workshop of 25 beautiful ladies brought my nerves of public speaking to a whole new level. Friends, I am not a public speaker! I’m just a gal who likes to paint in her Bible. Well, I guess that is all the Lord needs sometimes…His word and a scared momma!
The morning was amazing. I definitely felt the Lord speaking through me and it was exciting to see so many people experience His word in a new way. My emphasis is always on the meditation process on the scripture. I think that is pretty new for people. It was and still is for me. The pretty page at the end is just a bonus, you know what I mean? Spending so much time thinking and contemplating just one verse has brought me peace and stability. I think about my page when I am done, I think about the next verse I feel the Lord leading me to, I think about how I may illustrate that one, I think about how the same words I have read for years may be speaking to me in a new way…The Living Word!
We had some great giveaways thanks to some very generous donors:
An anonymous donor donated a $15 gift card to purchase Bible Journaling supplies.
Creating a Great Day donated a fun stamper to date all the Bible Journaling pages.
A HUGE thank you to all who made this possible. Many were involved from shopping to helping set up the audio visual to donating the space where we had the workshop.
(This is Kristi writing this part – another HUGE “Thank You!” to McKenzie for putting on this workshop. It was so well done and we all learned so much. Thanks for combining your talent with faith and sharing it with others!)
Here are some pictures and words from a few friends who were at the workshop. Enjoy!
“I absolutely loved the Bible journaling workshop! It had been a busy week and it was a wonderful way to relax and meditate on God’s word! It’s new to me, but I look forward to making time to sit down, focus, and study on a verse and then journal it! McKenzie is a wonderful Christian inspiration to so many women and especially now that she is encouraging us to really study God’s word in a new way by Bible journaling! Loved her workshop and the Bible journaling idea she taught us all!” -Terra
“My most pleasant surprise was how the doodling, “sketching it out” time truly evolved into a picture of what I believe God would emphasize from the text for me personally at that time. I started out with an attitude of ‘oh well, we’ll see how this goes’ and ended up encountering God’s heart the deeper I went in the exercise.” -Angela
“Being in McKenzie’s Bible journaling class taught me another avenue to write the Word on my heart! Focusing on scripture, feeling it, and highlighting it was powerful to me! I love the depth of the class. McKenzie has a gift that she chooses to give to God!” -Leslie
I pray that if you feel pulled to this type of worship that you will lean into what God is trying to show you. God is the creator, and therefore He is creative! We are made in His image and so we too are creative!
Shanna Noel is the owner of Illustrated Faith and encourages thousands of people to grow closer to God by focusing on his word through Bible Journaling. It has been such an inspiration to us. Her story of how God brought her to this point is awesome.
Be encouraged to listen to what God is putting on your heart as you read from Shanna how it all began!
1. How did you even start Bible Journaling?
Since I became a Christian, I have always struggled reading my Bible. One day, while browsing Pinterest, I saw an old standard Bible that was highlighted and underlined, it just looked LIVED in. I WANTED that. I was HUNGRY for the word. I just wasn’t sure how to get there. So I went on Amazon and picked up a “journaling Bible.” When I got it in the mail, I brought it over to my scrapbooking space and started journaling in the way I was comfortable, with was more of an “art journal” style. I took the notes from that Sunday’s sermon and just allowed myself creative freedom. It was a HUGE light bulb moment. For the first time, I understood the word like NEVER before. For the first time, I was left HUNGRY for more!
2. Why did you start Illustrated Faith?
Illustrated Faith started after a conference called “Influence” and so many people came up to me and asked if I was doing “this” full time. I was confused, doing what? Coloring in my Bible? :O) I felt God calling me during that conference to start this full time as a way to grow the community even more.
3. What is your prayer for Illustrated Faith?
My prayer for Illustrated Faith is to be community for creative Christians. A place where they can come, share and be inspired to illustrate their faith in a way that is meaningful to their relationship and walk with God.
4. How has the response to Illustrated Faith demonstrated God’s handiwork?
It is 100% due to God’s handiwork. If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be traveling the world telling people it was ok to worship God in a way that was outside of the box and sharing my testimony, I would have just laughed. That is how I know this is all God. He has set every single stone to this path and I pray that I follow it as best as I can.
5. What has been one or two of your biggest “ah ha!” moments since you began Bible Journaling?
The biggest “ah ha” moment was
YES! It is OK to not only color in your Bible but it will make A HUGE difference not only in MY walk but those who join along side me.
It has been amazing to see this same “AH HA” moment for so many as they discover Illustrated Faith for the first time.
The second “ah ha” moment was leaving the Influence conference in 2014, knowing that God was telling me to close my other business and focus on this full time. It was a huge leap of faith but one I know he is completely in control of. I love that through this we can bring culturally relevant products to the market that can make illustrating your faith approachable!
6. What advice would you tell someone who doesn’t want to mess up or doesn’t believe that she has the artistic talent to illustrate her faith?
The only thing I regret is not starting sooner! I have messed up several times but you can always fix that or cover it up. The truth is WE ARE ALL CREATIVE! God is the ultimate creator and we are made from HIM! Therefore, YOU are creative. So many times we have decided “I am not creative.” That is for my best friend or my husband. “He” is the creative one, not me. That is a lie my friends. You have it in you! Allow God to use it.
7. You have several workshops going on right now. What can one expect, if they attend?
During the workshop, I share my personal testimony on how we got to this point today, the way God has used me to share this with others. We also cover some FAQs and answer any questions. Then we listen to a short 15 minute sermon and after that we talk about how we are going to enter that into the margins of our Bible. During work time, I walk around and answer any questions, hear beautiful stories of how God is working in the lives of those attending and just OOOH and AWEEEE over the beautiful pages. At the end (my favorite part), the ladies share what God has done on their hearts through this experience as they share their pages. I am always left feeling just in awe of what God does in these workshops and if you are in the area I would love to see you!
8. How would you respond to someone that says your work is disrespecting God’s word?
I would encourage them to look closer. There isn’t one bit that is disrespectful. This is my love letter to God, one that I am constantly writing, praying and creating over. This has me deeper in the word and closer to Him than I have ever been before. I don’t think God is upset about that. :0)
9. Would you mind sharing a few of your favorite Bible journaling pieces & share what they mean to you?
To be honest, my favorite page is always the last one I have created. It is what God is currently whispering on my heart. To stay up to date on my latest entries, make sure to follow me on Instagram at @shannanoel.
Doesn’t this just motivate you to open up your Bible and dig into God’s word in a new way?
Do you Bible Journal already or are you finally ready to take the leap?