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.

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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 | Child of God

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“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

1 John 3:1

I’ve already shared a few stories about my dad here in the blog, so it’s probably easy to tell that I’m a big fan. 🙂 I know that I am very lucky to have the father that I have on this earth. He is wise, loving, kind, patient, strong, protective and a strong follower of Jesus. My dad has modeled so many important things to me and has helped shape me into the woman I am today. A lot of my best stories involve him. I love him dearly.

This made it particularly hard and painful as my dad started showing some strange symptoms a few years back. Besides a pretty progressive amount of forgetfulness that was not characteristic of a man in his early 60s, there were other things – confusion, anxiety, mood changes and declining comprehension. We began round after round of testing, second and third opinions, traveling for expert doctors and finally landed at a specialty clinic north of where we live. Just a few days after his testing there in December 2015, the doctors called a family meeting and sat us around a large oak table where they broke the news that my father had early onset Alzheimers Disease at a moderate stage.

Everything became a blur punctuated by a few phrases… “terminal disease”, “will never improve”, “average diagnosis to death…8 years.” I had seen signs of my dad slipping away prior, but this made it official. My dad was fading and we would have to watch him fade away before losing him completely. To say my heart was crushed is an understatement. I never imagined the possibility of losing a parent in my 30s or 40s. We were supposed to grow old together, sprout gray hairs together and laugh about “the good old days”.

My emotions have ebbed and flowed as we’ve navigated the last 3 years since his diagnosis and the slow loss that accompanies time. I have really good, strong and positive days, and I have very dark, sad and lonely days. Mourning the gradual loss of someone who is standing right in front of you is indescribably painful and exhausting. As I explained the emotional roller coaster to my best friend, I found myself choking out what my heart had been struggling with…”Sometime soon, I won’t have a dad anymore. Who is going to take care of me? Sometimes you just need a dad! I can’t do this life without my daddy.”

It was a few weeks later that I first heard the song “No Longer Slaves” from Bethel Music and cried my eyes out. These particular verses were gut-wrenching and beautiful to me:

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name.
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins. 

I’m not longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God.

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father.
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance.
We’ve been liberated
From our bondage.
We’re the songs and the daughters.
Let us sing our freedom.

It was a real WHOA GOD kind of moment for me. Though I will have to endure the pain and loss of my early father, I will never be without a Father. The God of the universe was my father first. I AM A CHILD OF GOD. I belong to him. I always will. And what greater love is there than the love of our heavenly father.

I have found great comfort in the knowledge that I was, am and forever will be loved by our Father God. No matter what comes, I am his child and will be covered by his grace and compassion. On tough days, I meditate on 1 John 3:1 and the promise contained therein. The promise that our Father loves us so very much that we are called his children. And I honestly feel his arms wrap around me and surround the pain, and provide me with peace and love.

When I opened the August Faith Art box I was blown away when the very first thing I saw was the child of God medallion sticker. Friends, our God really meets us where we are at and where we have a need, and I needed to be reminded of this powerful truth.

This was an emotional entry for me and honestly, creatively, I struggled. I was inspired by the beautiful entry that Lindsey did last month and so I framed out the verses for the entry in a similar fashion. I then got out some different shades of red and pink gelatos (Iced Currant, Red Cherry, Metallic Melon, and Guava with some accents of Metallic Icing) and made some circular shapes reminiscent of the rosettes in the stamp set. I used a light wash of water to make a watercolor effect and blend the shades together. After they dried I stamped in the rosettes on top using black VersaFine ink using some paper masks to layer them and then sprinkled in some leaves from this and previous kits.

DSC_3711I then framed the verses with a few strips of light blue paper that matched this month’s colors and fastened on this sweet lace border using a bit of clear embellishment glue. I used a dimensional dot to place the child of God medallion and make it pop up so I could layer the blossom stickers underneath.

I finished with a few of the enamel shapes from last month’s kit and a bit of journaling at the top right of the page.

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I really wanted to include the lyrics from the No Longer Slaves song to make it really personal so I cut the reflection questions from the devotional card, printed off the lyrics and fastened them to the card, framing it in a bit more of the lace border. Then, I used the wordfetti from the kit to add the title, “My name is child of God”. DSC_3715I love this little extra card! I’m using the sweet floral print bow to secure it into my bible. DSC_3717

And I love that it includes the great reflection questions on the back. I love having a reminder of what I’ve been studying right there on my page.

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My prayer for you is that you would know the love of our heavenly Father. Love that is deep, pure, unconditional and grace-giving. No matter what your earthly father is like, or whether you know or have a relationship with your dad, you are still a precious, loved child of God and there is nothing better than His love for you. His love covers all pain, fear, shame and doubt. You will forever be his.

Be blessed, friends!

Need inspiration? Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits. Are we friends yet? We should be! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling, Other Fun Stuff

Creative Retreat Kits | Gentle Shepherd

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“The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.”

-Psalm 23:1-3

For years I have thought of my father as a “gentle giant”. Towering at over 6 foot 4 inches, my dad’s presence is not something you typically miss in a room. In fact, I feel like it might have been quite a big factor in me never having many suitors during my dating years. 😉 Though he’s built like a linebacker, I never thought of him as an enforcer. I always thought of him as my protector. My guide. My source of wisdom when the world didn’t make sense… which in my teen years, was often. He is truly, a gentle giant with a heart for his family and an even bigger heart for Jesus.

We often think of leaders needing to have a commanding presence, or needing to instill a dose of fear in order to be respected and followed. But real leadership is not found in a commanding, order-barking presence. It’s found in gentle giants. It’s found in shepherds, guiding foolish and meek sheep like us. A good leader creates a love and trust that makes you WANT to follow them and allows you to have faith that you are in good hands.

I love the countless references you find in scripture describing our Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a shepherd (the good shepherd, the one shepherd, chief shepherd). There is something truly remarkable about the peaceful but fierce guidance of a good shepherd. He tends his flock and will not lead them astray or allow them to fall into an enemy’s hands. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He also leads his sheep to wells of living water so they will not be thirsty. What a precious gift, the love of a shepherd gives us.

I’m truly thankful for the gift of my earthly father and all of the years of his gentle shepherding  to make me the woman that I am today. But I’m completely speechless when it comes to the love and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, the one true shepherd of each and every one of us.

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I decided to dive into my hymnal with the May Faith Art box and found this beautiful hymn called Gentle Shepherd written by Gloria and William Gaither (1974). The words are beautiful:

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, For we need You to help us find our Way. 
Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us, For we need Your strength from day to day. 
There’s no other we can turn to, Who can help us face another day;
Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, For we need You to help us find our Way. 

I started my entry with a very soft wash of a few Hand Made Modern acrylic paints from Target, using a baby wipe to apply. This give such a sheer lovely, easy application. Next I got out some texture paste and mixed the yellow acrylic paint in and then smeared it over the crosses stencil that is cut into my bible journaling mat from Illustrated Faith. I wanted a little extra dimension and texture paste works like a charm!

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I then laid down a few titles using the stickers and alpha set in the kit, first “Jesus Leads – Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Trinity” and then “Follow in Faith”. I accented with my yellow striped washi tape (I use this one so much!) and outlined with a black journaling pen.

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I then used the devotion card to make this little “garden” at the bottom of the page, using various stickers from the kit to make the flowers. I layered it with a little strip of green scrap paper I had laying around and affixed the little “follow him” title on the bottom. I used this to do a little private journaling on the back.

I finished with a tab punch from the devotion card as well as that adorable yellow gingham bow. I really like hymnal entries and how they tie so beautifully into the scriptures I’ve been studying.

Friends, my prayer for you is that you know the love, provision and protection of the good shepherd. Know that you are being led down the best possible path and that you are under the constant and vigilant eye of the shepherd who loves you more than anything. Be blessed, friends!

There are so many fun and creative ways to use Faith Art Kits. Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits to get inspired. Let’s be friends! Check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Memory Keeping

Creative Retreat Kits|His Promises

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“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will waters become a flood to destroy all life.”

Genesis 9:13-15

I’ve always been terrified of thunder storms. Something about the loud boom and crackle of thunder strong enough to shake the windows always makes my heart race. As a child I remember running to my dad in fear and him saying, “God is talking right now,” when the cracks of thunder would roar over our house. While I’m in awe of the power of God in those moments, I’m also very aware that I am a fragile, tiny human that is deeply vulnerable.

The crazy thing is that I also love a good storm. There is fascination buried in that fear. And maybe, just maybe it’s that I hold out hope that the end of the storm will bring a bright rainbow. We don’t get a terribly large amount of rain where I live in Central California, and we don’t get epic storms like you see in the Midwest and East coast. But every once in a while, we get a good one and right at the tail end, the clouds will part and the sun will pierce through, igniting a bright, prismatic rainbow stretching from one end of the sky to the other (the perk of living in very flat lands).

I adore rainbows. Beyond the science of it all, it’s just shockingly beautiful and every time I see one, it reminds me of God’s promises. From the very first promise in Genesis where God specifically set a rainbow to be a reminder of his covenant and promise to never flood the earth and destroy all life again, to the everyday promises that he makes to his people:

  • That he loves us.
  • That he died for us to forgive our sins, once for all.
  • That he is all powerful.
  • That he heals the broken-hearted.
  • The he has compassion for us.
  • That he will give us wisdom.
  • That he has a purpose and plan for our lives.
  • That he will never leave us or give up on us.

I could go on and on listing his promises. They are endless. I can barely wrap my mind around a God who promises so very much to his people, but still sees and loves me. He sees me in the storms and he shows me his promises. I look at storms differently now. Though there is still fear, I hold on to his promises and love and always look for the rainbow.

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We’ve had quite a few storms in my neck of the woods the last month or two and I’ve been loving it. We’ve also been blessed with some crazy beautiful rainbows. One so beautiful that I grabbed a photo and raced home to make sure my little boys would see it, which they did and loved. I’ve actually taken a lot of “rain pics” the last few weeks (guys, we were so desperate for rain in our dry lands). I thought it might be fun to do something a little different and use the April Faith Art kit to do a pocket page for my scrapbook.

I started by laying out my pocket page protector and then printing a few photos, keeping in mind the dimensions and to space them around the page evenly. I put everything on top of the protector before I ever put anything in pockets. It allows you to quickly move things around and make adjustments easily. I pulled out some coordinating scrap paper and washi tape from my stash that would match the gorgeous blues and pop of yellow in this month’s kit. I swoon for the color combo of this kit!

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I printed out the verse in Genesis, as well as some song lyrics from Rain Down, by Delirious. I then wrote up a quick journaling card and then got to stacking things up.

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The stickers in the kit were absolutely perfect for a rain-themed page. I used SO MANY of them, but still had plenty to go around.

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The secret to a fun pocket page, scrapbook page, even bible journal entry is LAYERS. It’s all about layers. And the more you layer various textures and colors, the better. If I sit back and look at a page and think it’s just “undone” looking, I just add another layer. You really can’t go wrong… though I would caution from going too layer crazy! 🙂

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I pray that you are all able to see and feel God’s promises for you every single day. He is there in the storm of whatever you are going through. His promises do not fail. Look for the rainbows. Be blessed, friends!

Don’t miss out on all of the awesome and fun ways to use Creative Retreat Kits. Follow @creativeretreat on Instagram and follow the hashtag #creativeretreatkits to get inspired. While you’re there, check out my IG @bibleartgal.

Bible Journaling, Other Fun Stuff

More Exciting News!

I’m so happy to share that I’ve been accepted to apileofashes Sticker Squad for April and May! I love the beautiful pieces that Ash creates and I’m so thrilled to get creative with her products. Be sure to follow the other girls on the squad. There is some serious talent in this group. Stay tuned for more.

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You can find and follow these ladies on Instagram:
@bibleartgal (that’s me)
@iam_angelamarrero
@elizabethb84
@luckowfam
@besavedbygrace
@colorfuljulie
@myartsiecreations
@ajproverbsthreefive
@colors_in_her_bible
@ckabillyandcrafts

We’ll be posting on Instagram. You can shop apileofashes Etsy shop HERE and use the code “JENN15” for 15% off your order and check out her website HERE.