Other Fun Stuff

Creative Retreat Kits | Joy to the World

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“Joy to the World! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing”

-Joy to the World, published in 1719, written by Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

-Psalm 98:4

Friends, can I share with you how immensely glad my heart is that the holidays are upon us?! I had the amazing gift of writing the devotional for this month’s Faith Art Box, so hopefully, you know how deeply I feel about the importance of preparing our hearts for Christ as we enter into this season.

We prepare so very much for Christmas, through capturing that perfect Christmas card image, to buying gifts for everyone we love, preparing for holiday parties, baking trays of sweet cookies, and “decking our halls” with all the twinkle and trim that we can to make our homes festive. This season, I’m challenged to put in the same effort with my heart. My home might be ready to reflect on Christmas, but is my heart ready to remember the birth of our King and truly savor what he came to do for us?

As I dove deeper into Joy to the World, the carol that inspired this month’s devotional, I was struck to find out that it wasn’t intended to be a Christmas carol at all, but rather, as a poem inspired by Psalm 98. At its heart, it’s a true expression of the joy and power of our great Savior. A psalm expression of his love, the offer of salvation and faithfulness that springs forth even from the depths of the earth… the seas roar, the rivers clap their hands, the fields exult. That is some deep and expressive joy!

A lot of times I think we make the mistake of thinking that reflecting and preparing our hearts needs to be done in silence, in reverence or in study. But we serve a God of joy! We serve a God who delights in our praise and worship. This holiday season, I intend embrace the heart of Psalm 98, of Joy to the World, and will prepare my heart with joy of knowing intimately our King, who was born to save! I hope you’ll do the same.

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I knew I wanted to journal with this hymn and I wanted to keep this page pretty simple because I really didn’t want to cover up the lyrics (especially after I researched the heart of it). I always forget about stamping so I thought it would be fun to kick off this page with stamping… and when I saw the pine branch stamps in this month’s box… my heart went straight to garlands.

I used both pine branch stamps and layered them to form garlands, using Distress Oxide Inks in Cracked Pistachio and Lucky Clover. I then added a few embellishments to the garland using some of the heart stickers from the kit. It needed a little contrast, and a bit of sparkle so I added in some simple dots using a metallic gold marker.

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I knew I wanted to incorporate that sweet blue bow in the kit so I laid down a strip of plaid washi (from one of the Illustrated Faith Revival Camp kits this summer) that coordinated really well with the kit, both to reinforce the page and secure the bow. On top, I layered the word Prepare from the wordfetti in the kit as a reminder of the heart of this hymn… “let every heart prepare him room”.

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Lastly, I added a little more of the plaid washi at the bottom of the page to tie it together. On top of that, I layered a label sticker from the kit and then stamped 2018 in gold ink. I try to pick a hymn to focus on each holiday season, and seeing as I became so invested in this one, I found it to be the perfect fit.

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Friends, my prayer for you is that you prepare your heart as we enter into this holiday season. I pray that you know how deeply and fully God loves you and that YOU are the heart of why he sent his son. May you seek and find joy this season in all that you do.

Be blessed and pursue joy, my friends!

Need some inspiration as you prepare and journal this holiday season? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? Let’s be! I love friends. Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

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Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | When We Gather

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“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:20

I could hardly believe when I saw on the calendar just a few short weeks ago that it was officially fall. It takes quite a while for temperatures to cool and for leaves to actually fall where I live so it can take a while for it to really set in. For me, fall always ignites the practice and attitude of gratefulness in my life. Maybe it’s because it is the eve of Thanksgiving when the whole world finally takes a pause to give thanks. I like to start early and really get in the right frame of mind.

This year, the thing that rises to the top of mind when I think of what I am grateful for, is “my people”. We all need each other so desperately, even when things are good, but so much more so when things are less than ideal. This year has very much been the latter for me and I don’t know if I could have gotten as far as I am today without my people.

My support system is very small but very strong. Much of my support system is rooted in the faith of our Lord and Savior. He comes first in everything. I think of Matthew 18 when I think of my people. This passage is often referred to when it comes to conflict resolution, which it is a wonderful template for, but for me, it’s such a shining example of what strength there is when believers gather in His name. He tells us that he is with us in these moments. Truly holy moments happen when we gather in His name!

Some of the most earnest prayers I have made when gathered with my people have been asked in His name. There is incredible power in the name of God. Satan trembles at his name. Mountains will tumble at the sound of his name. You see, big things happen when we gather in His name. He is for us and he is with us. Could there be anything better?

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Let’s chat about my entry – can we talk about the gorgeous colors in this kit?! I also adored the vine and leaf pattern on the back of the devotional card (which I typically do), so I raided my paper stash because I knew I had some others with the same color palette. I started by buffing in a soft wash of ink (Distress Oxide ink in Fossilized Amber) on the top and bottom of the page. I thought this might help the mixed paper patterns blend together a bit better and because I just loved that yellow.

Next, I pulled papers that specifically had this earthy yellow, rich purple and soft gray or turquoise. I got out my hexagon die cut and cut out several sheets. Starting at the bottom edge, I started piecing them together on the page, gluing one piece down at a time, focusing just on the bottom of the page, then creating a simple cluster at the top of the page as well. I carefully cut off any overhanging pieces with a small scissor.

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I loved the beautiful Gather in His Name sticker from the kit so I used only that as my title. This was the PERFECT piece for this page! I also loved the two circle stickers that said He is For Us and He is With Us so I nestled those together down into the hexis. I framed out my verses with a bit of purple washi tape and hit the page with some purple watercolor splatters.

I loved the dark teal bow in the kit so I added that and loved how it helped tie in the various patterns and bring in that turquoise blue color. It was the perfect finishing touch to a page full of rich color!
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Friends, my prayer for you is that you begin the practice of gratefulness now as we enter this harvest season. Consider the good harvest in your life this year and be grateful for those who have come alongside you, prayed with you and for you and have gathered together with you in the name of God. He is with us. He is for us. Amen!

For more inspiration using the October Faith Art box follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Be sure to check out our Facebook Insiders group for more inspiration and some fun freebies! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | Refuge and Strength

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“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

Psalm 46:1-2

Getting and staying in shape has always been a big challenge for me. For starters, I don’t enjoy exercise at all, and everything in my genes and metabolism is seemingly fighting against me. I recently acquired a gym membership and as part of the onboarding process, I was offered a free physical consultation and comprehensive testing. This was a pretty thorough test and involved all different facets of health (blood testing for glucose and cholesterol, measurements for BMI, fat caliper testing, blood oxygen testing, endurance testing, etc.).

I had done most of that before but I had never been through any strength testing. Though I wasn’t surprised at most of my physical results (like I said, I’m healthy but I know I’m out of shape), I was really surprised to see that my strength testing was pretty solid. In fact, for someone so out of shape in every other way, I have above average strength.

But physical strength only counts for so much. As I’ve grown older and endured much more adult problems and responsibilities, I’ve realized that emotional and spiritual strength is invaluable. Fortunately, I am pretty strong in both those areas too… but I definitely need a Savior. I need the strength of my God to cover me when my humanness makes it feel too hard to endure. In this life, those times are pretty often. God created us as beings who need him.

Scripture is very clear in stating that there is no one and nothing more powerful than our God. I love Psalm 46 and how it describes our God as both a refuge (safe place, protected, shelter) and strength – a very present help in time of trouble. AMEN! It goes on to describe how we need not have any fear even if the earth gives way and oceans roars and the ground trembles beneath us. God is in control of all things. That is POWER and that is the only power I want in my life.

I wanted to do something a bit different for this entry so I pulled out my little Psalms book. I also wanted to keep the entry pretty simple because there isn’t a lot of space on these pages and I didn’t want to cover the text.

I started with a soft wash of pinky purple watercolor from Dots and Dust‘s Cupcakes and Cocktails palette (Shade: Manhattan). This actually has a lovely golden shimmer to it that you can’t see in the photos but added a really nice pop. I then used a matching marker to make very rough circular shapes, similar to the circles on the back of the devotional card in this month’s kit. Let’s be honest, mine are just scribbles but that’s exactly what I wanted.

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Next, I highlighted my verse with the same pen. I grabbed some of the wordfetti and stamps from the stamp set to spell out a few titles (faithful strength, and In My Weakness You are Strong). I couldn’t resist adding in a few random strips of my favorite mustard yellow striped washi tape. I wish I could remember where I got it because I’m quickyl running out. I sprinkled in a few enamel shapes from a previous kit, as well as some of the heart stickers.

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I journaled in a prayer at the bottom of the page with a blue pen. Lastly, I added that super cute jumbo bow (which is started calling a jumbow) and a sticker, with more of the washi tape, mostly to secure the big bow in place. This was a super quick entry but really fun to jump into this Psalms book. I might have to pull this one out more often. Don’t you just love the Psalms?

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Friends, my prayer for you is that you know and feel the strength of our God. It is beyond imagination how powerful he is and how much he loves us. When you are weak, call out his name and feel the refuge that is provided in his strength. You need not fear with the Lord on your side.

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For more inspiration using the September Faith Art box follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Be sure to check out our Facebook Insiders group for more inspiration and some fun freebies! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | Made Perfect in Weakness

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

There was a time in my 20s when I felt like I was in really decent shape, and was at a phase in my life when I wanted to try everything. I said YES to as many new experiences as I could. I was single and had all the time in the world, so when my singles group at church invited everyone out for a day hike in the mountains, I said YES.

What I quickly learned, just minutes into this “easy” hiking trail was that I was in fact not in decent shape and I was not cut out for hiking. Let’s just say that I huffed and puffed, and at one point, was seeing spots, on the verge of passing out completely. Layers of clothing were shed. At one point, a heroic gentleman in our group offered to carry my backpack. Even stripped of everything weighing me down, I struggled.

The mental attack on myself started, “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you do this? You are such a joke! You look like a fool right now.” I couldn’t deal with my own inner enemy screeching in my ears. I started to pray and pray hard, “Lord, I need you. I can’t do this. I don’t want to hold this group back. I said yes to this so I could live richly, deeply and fully. God, I need you.” The prayers continued as the incline grew more sharp.

As I continued to falter and take many, many breaks, I started to recite scripture. It was amazing. Scriptures I didn’t even know that I could remember by heart started flowing through me. Psalms, Proverbs, James… I recited until the intensity of those scriptures covered me and I could no longer focus on the pain in my legs or the burn of my lungs. The word of God was covering me and giving me power I didn’t know I had.

At some point, I didn’t even realize when we reached the summit. That summit contained the most beautiful oasis tucked into the canyon – a lazy river, great trees towering overhead and a peace that I hadn’t seen or felt in a very long time. “Thank you Lord!” I exclaimed, both out of relief of the end of our ascent, but also at the reward that was waiting here for me. The struggle was so worth it.

As I read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, speaking of our Lord, “my power is made perfect in weakness” I thought of this hiking trip. Physically, I needed the Lord to get me to the top of that mountain. Mentally, I needed his peace and guidance too. And as I reflect on it now, in my moments of great weakness (and not even physical weakness, but spiritual weakness, pain, grief, stress…) I have needed God more than ever. I think God’s power really is made perfect in our weakness. Without weakness, we wouldn’t need a Savior. Our weakness creates a hunger for God that only he can satisfy. And not only does he satisfy… he heals, restores and brings power! Like Paul says, when we are weak, we are STRONG because of our God! And often, like the oasis that revealed itself at the end of my hike, there is incredible beauty and reward waiting.

I love the subtle color scheme of the September Faith Art box and I felt that tones of gray would go perfectly. This simple entry started with just a few strips of a gray plaid washi tape, laid down at angles. On top I layered my title using the wordfetti and title stickers – made perfect in my weakness.

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Then, I used the heart stickers to form a sort of path of arrows to my secondary title, I am made perfect in you. The white border of the “perfect” and “weakness” stickers seamed a bit stark so I went in with a bit of Ice Spruce Distress Oxide ink on a Q-tip and buffed it around the edges. This helped it settle into the washi tape a bit better. I like that it ended up a bit distressed, messy and not perfect… it really fit the theme of the page. 🙂

Next I made a notecard for my sermon notes using half of the devotion card from this month’s kit. This sermon from Chuck Smith was really powerful (and can be found on Blue Letter Bible) and I wanted to capture his main points.

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I used the number stickers from the alpha stickers and a bit more of the washi to capture all the points. I cut the title out of the other side of the devotional card and attached it to the top. Finally, I used a bit more washi tape to tip it into my bible.

For finishing touches I did a little bit of splattering with gray watercolor paint. I found this cute gray fabric in my stash and made a quick clip to secure to the top of my page with a bit of washi. I tape all my clips in so they don’t fall out.

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Friends, my prayer for you is that you realize how badly we need a Savior. May we not see weakness and being vulnerable as a bad thing, but rather an expression of our open need for the power and might of our God. I pray that in your weakness, you will cry out to him and find immeasurable strength, healing and love, and that you will be greeted by an oasis more beautiful than you ever imagined on the other side.

Be blessed, friends!

Not sure how you can use September’s Faith Art Box? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? Let’s connect! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | One True King

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“But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes.
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.”

Jeremiah 10:10

I’m not a huge consumer of junk food… but I do have a mean sweet tooth. Do you remember several years back when Hostess announced that it was closing it’s doors? Now, I wouldn’t say I was devastated or anything, but I will admit that I was bummed. Bummed because those chocolate cupcakes with the white swirl on top were one of my guilty pleasures. We all have those little things that are probably just not that appealing, but end up being a bit of a vice.

I used to allow myself a package of those every once in a while as a treat, OR when I donated blood. I could always count on the blood bank to have my favorite treats. So when Hostess announced it was quits, I thought I would be devoid of my indulgence forever. It wasn’t a short time later that that “imitators” started popping up in vending machines and storefronts.

I was reluctant, but I gave them a try. They were NOT my indulgence. They were dry. They were sort of tasteless and weirdly sticky. They were not Hostess. They were in fact just imitators. There are SO MANY imitators in our life. Things that promise they are real and satisfying. But when you look down deep, they are just that, fakes. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to guide us to truth. There is nothing that reveals truth better than our God!

Jeremiah 10:10 describes our God as the ONE TRUE GOD. There is nothing artificial, tasteless or fake about Him. He is great. He is powerful. He is above all. Better than that he is the LIVING GOD that is above all. Living means that he still acts and intercedes for us every day. He doesn’t just sit back and watch our lives unfold. He is active and present in them.

For my page this week I decided to go royal and honor our one true King. I started by using the ink smooshing technique (smooshing ink onto plastic packaging, spraying a bit of water on it and “smooshing” it on the page several times). I used Distress Oxide ink in Faded Jeans. I LOVE this color of blue and it coordinated with the kit just perfectly.

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Next I decided to do a little bit of hand lettering with a gold American Crafts marker. Lettering is NOT my strength but I felt like that was the only way to do it for spelling out the title King and I’m actually happy with how it turned out. I added a few other alphas and wordfetti from the kit to spell out “He is the one true King”.

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I went in drew a box around my verse and drew a few little gold stars with the marker and then hit the whole page with some gold splatters using a Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor in Blue Gold.

I finished the page off with a little sparkly gold washi tape, that sweet blue bow from the kit and the One True King medallion sticker.

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This was a quick and simple entry but I really like how it turned out. The blue and gold combo is one of my faves.

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Friends, I pray that you know and celebrate the one true God and King in your lives. I pray that you know of his power and might but feel his compassion and love for you. Do not settle for cheap imitators and fakes to full any holes in your life. He is above all and will cover all. He is the King of your heart.

Be blessed, friends!

If you’re looking for inspiration using the Faith Art Box, follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? We should be! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | Let’s Build Up

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For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

I was just a kid when my dad built a solid brick wall to contain some garden beds he wanted to cultivate in our Southern California back yard. I watched him in amazement, and a little bit of boredom, as he laid brick by brick. His motions became almost robotic as he meticulously spread just the right amount of mortar on each brick, carefully placed it in its designated spot and gently tapped at its corners to make sure it was even, level and flush with its neighboring bricks.

I asked my dad, “why don’t you just spread a whole bunch of that mortar stuff and lay down a whole bunch of bricks at once?” My dad patiently replied, “Because that wouldn’t work. The wall would slope uphill or downhill, the mortar wouldn’t set properly and it wouldn’t be even at all. A wall built that way wouldn’t stand for long.” As a child I probably rolled my eyes and walked away to find something more interesting to do.

As an adult I’ve reflected on that moment a lot. Every time I see a brick wall in fact. Brick, done well, seems to last a lifetime. We have brick walls in my town that are over a hundred years old and are standing strong. The secret to a brick wall is that precision that my dad talked about. Each brick has its exact spot and they have to be laid just so, or the whole wall will fall. They need each other to form a unified stronghold.

As I read this verse in Thessalonians I thought of us, as people. We are not meant to navigate this world alone. We need each other. Together is the only way we can truly be built up. It’s made me so grateful for the friends that I have by my side. Doing life TOGETHER is the only way to do it. When I am weak, my friends are strong. When my friends are sad, I bring them joy. We navigate the good, the bad, the happy, the sad… together. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think our Father in heaven is so encouraged when we, as brothers and sisters, invest in and build each other up.

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I started my entry with a prayer, using this super cute sticker from the Faith Art kid and a few hearts to form a colon. There were a couple of verses on this page that I found really fitting to the theme of encouraging and building up so I “fenced them in” using a black journaling marker.

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I then grabbed some Illustrated Faith watercolors to make a little wall at the bottom of my page. I drew in the bricks with the journaling pen and used some stickers from the Faith Art kit to serve both as bricks and as my title, “Brothers, Sisters, Be Encouraged, Build Each Other Up”. I added a few splatters with the black watercolor to make the wall and page look a little bit rustic.

I finished the page of with that sweet pink bow and just a little yellow striped washi tape.

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My prayer for you is that you have brothers and sisters to surround you, encourage you and build you up. May you never feel alone and may you never feel torn down by the world around you. Let’s do life together!

Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits to get inspired in how to use this month’s kit. While you’re there, let’s be friends! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling

Creative Retreat Kits | He Overcomes All

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 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

In college I studied journalism. I loved stories and I loved being a story teller. As a result, I watched and read the news A LOT. I devoured the newspapers in the morning and poured over the news in the evening. I liked knowing what was going on in the world and I liked thinking about how I would tell the stories if I had the chance. I was young and the stories captivated me.

As time went on and I grew older, I navigated my career away from journalism and in to advertising and marketing. Though the storytelling part of the news still appealed to me, I noticed that there was not much “good news” on TV. Every night was a back to back agenda of crime, destruction, hatred, theft, war, death and suffering. It was all too much. This compounded as the years passed and peaked when I had my children. I almost never watch the news or read news stories anymore. According to the news, there is almost no good left in the world.

I of course know that this is not true. But what really encourages me is knowing that even if the world is filled with hate and war and crime, there is the knowledge that our Lord and Savior has overcome it all. He overcame through his sacrifice and death on the cross. And I believe he overcomes for us every day. Because he overcomes, we have PEACE. Peace among all the things we see on the news. Peace and promise that we are going to be met in paradise. Pain and suffering are big. But our God is much bigger. Thank you Jesus! You overcome!

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The colors in this month’s Faith Art Box are so summery and bright. They make me smile! I ADORED the cute pattern on the back of the devotional card so I set about trying to recreate it. I used Target’s Hand Made Modern paints swirled on using some sponge daubers. After those dried, I used the ADORABLE texture stamps from the kit and stamped in using a black Versafine ink pad and white Craft ink.

I laid down a few titles including “Take Heart Jenn” using the stickers and alpha stickers in the kit. I recently read a devotion that talked about how important and powerful it is to personalize scripture. This is most easily done by adding your name to scripture and I must tell you, it really does feel powerful and like our God is speaking directly to you. I don’t know about you all but I definitely needed to heart the words “take heart”.

DSC_3464 I’ve gotten really interested in looking up the dictionary definitions of words so I looked up the word overcome and found that it meant defeated, prevailed and overpowered. Amen! I added that into my journaling and then layered in some washi tape and the rest of my titles, finishing the page with the SWEET striped bow (STRIPES ARE MY FAVORITE!).

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My prayer for each of you reading this is to know that our God is so much bigger than the ugly that we see on the news. He’s bigger than the pain and suffering in our days here on earth. He has overcome, and he will continue to overcome, for you, every day. He wants you to know the peace that he offers and to know that his peace covers ALL. Be blessed, friends!

Have you seen all of the amazing ways you can use Faith Art Kits? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits to get inspired. While you’re there, let’s be friends! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.