by Emily Conrad and Charissa Steyn
In preparation for doing this series on God’s love, I ordered a 40 Days of Love Letters journal from Art of Adventure. The exercise of carefully reading a passage of Scripture and then writing out a love letter from Jesus to me was so powerful, I immediately knew I not only wanted to use the journal as prep for myself for the series, I wanted it to be a part of the happenings on the blog this month.
Charissa Steyn of Art of Adventure, the journal’s creator, graciously accepted the invite to join us for a Q and A today. And yes, we’re giving away one of these lovely journals to someone who comments on this post-keep reading for details!
Thanks for taking the time to join us for the Indivisible series today, Charissa! I’m so excited to have you visit the blog!
What inspired the 40 Days of Love Letters journal?
There were a few things that inspired me to create the 40 Days of Love Letters journal. The first bit of inspiration came from my desire to always be attentive to God’s voice and presence in my life, to be on the lookout for His love letters throughout the day- be it through a verse in the Bible, the encouragement of a friend, a colorful sunset, a hug from my kids, a worship song…He is constantly pursuing us!
Secondly, I was inspired by a verse in Luke chapter 1:28, out of the Message Bible. It is when the angel greets Mary to tell her the news- she will bring forth God’s son. A surprising adventure to say the least!
I feel like this is the way God wants to meet you and I every morning too. Imagine if we heard Him speaking out our identity over us each day like this, think of all the adventures we would say YES too!
And the third piece of inspiration came from my husband; he is an amazing writer of love letters. He once wrote me a letter that was over 20 pages when we were dating! His words fill me with joy and heal the hurts between us. Jesus’ love letters are no different.
When you think of God’s love, what Bible verse/passage comes to mind first? What makes that passage so striking to you?
There are too many too count, but I’ll go with these three.
1. Song of Songs 2:14
I picture God calling us out of fear, doubt, addiction, and pain. He is inviting us to come out of hiding, to be vulnerable with Him, to look Him in the eyes, and let Him pour out his love on us. When we live in love with Jesus we experience an abundant life!
2. Hosea 2:14-15
I love the image of going on a date with God, Him bringing us flowers, and us responding like we did when we first met Him! We may not always understand the purpose of the trials and pain we are going through but we can be assured that we serve a God who woos us to Himself through everything we experience. With this perspective, even the valleys come alive with opportunities for intimacy with Him.
3. And lastly Psalm 139, never gets old to me. It is one I come back to again and again and again. I get amnesia and constantly forget the beauty of God’s heart and how He sees me. When I remember those two things, my whole approach to routine life, friendships, work, mothering, and marriage is transformed.
For those of us who tend to think of God as more of a loving Father, in what ways is Jesus “the romantic God,” as you call Him in the journal’s opening?
My husband was one of the first people I’d ever heard talk about his relationship with God as a romance. I remember the night he explained about Jesus’ proposal to us, how Jesus uses Jewish wedding customs when He offers the cup of the new covenant at the last supper (Mark 14:22-24) and when He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) All the disciples would have recognized this kind of talk as Jesus proposing to them, like a Jewish man would ask his soon-to-be-bride for her hand in marriage.
Each one of us is invited to have a vibrant, growing, romantic relationship with Jesus, just as we would desire with our spouse. All throughout scripture God describes Himself as a patient, steadfast husband to His people. (check out: Isaiah 62:1-10, Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 2:13-17, 19-20, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 9:14-15, John 3:29)
I often say that God likes to make us blush. He is a romantic God in that He yearns for us to respond to His pursuit, to take His hand and trust, bare our soul and be ourselves, and walk in the greatest Love Story that’s ever been written. This closeness can make us squirm, it feels uncomfortable- but I encourage you to see Him through new eyes- as the Lover He wants to be to you. You are His beloved.
What do you think we miss when we don’t consider this side of His love?
Oh we miss out on so much! I see it in my own life. When I forget that God wants to be like a Husband to me, take delight in me, and gently lead me with His unrelenting, wild love I miss out on a beautiful adventure with Him.
My days quickly become drudgery. I lack trust, courage, and confidence. I am fearful of the unknown, busy with doing things for Him, and bored with the mundane.
But when we are women in love with Jesus, no matter what comes we are brave; we respond with a YES when He calls us out of our comfort zone. We don’t get sucked into busy-ness but draw our strength from being with Him. Every day, every season becomes rich with moments to draw closer to Him. God doesn’t want us to miss out on what it feels like to be fully known and fully loved by Him.
In the journal’s introduction, you write, “He leads us out of our comfort zones so we can fall more in love with Him.” Can you give an example of this from your life?
What stands out in my mind is the first time I flew overseas to Vienna, Austria. With a blanket and pillow, two suitcases packed full of my belongings, I started out on what I thought would be two years away from “home.” Little did I know my one small and timid yes to God would turn into a story I never imagined. I ended up staying over four years, meeting my South African sweetheart, making lifelong friends, discovering my passion for Europe, living in three continents, and learning that home wasn’t a specific location on a map, but nestling up close to Jesus and hearing His heartbeat no matter where I found myself. Every time I hear His invitation to step out, I now realize that He’s about to unveil another layer of His love!
What Art of Adventure projects are you excited about right now?
I’m looking forward to what God has in store for the Art of Adventure shop + blog this year! In a few months we will launch the Spring 40 Days of Adventure journal- a guide to getting out of your comfort zone. I will also continue to create free resources to encourage us as women to come alive to our own adventure, you can check out the latest ones here. Being a mom of three little ones under four, I try to stay in step with my season and not try to do too many projects all at once. But that doesn’t stop me from having some big dreams brewing in my heart for Art of Adventure that I can’t yet share, but be sure to stay tuned for all the surprises! You can subscribe to the once a month Walking in Wonder newsletter here, to be empowered to live an everyday adventure with Jesus!
Thank you so much for sharing with us Charissa!
Now, of course, we could not show picture after picture of these beautiful journals without offering you the chance to win one! To be entered, comment below with your favorite Scripture that tells of God’s love. The winner will be randomly selected next week Wednesday, 2/8/17, and announced in Thursday’s post (2/9/17). If you win, you’ll need to get your mailing address to me within a week. US addresses only.
PS – This post is part of the Indivisible series. To get more info about the series, guest writers, giveaways, and the free short story, check out the first post here. New posts will be going up each Tuesday and Thursday through February. As they’re added, you’ll be able to read them all here.