Today, Marissa speaks to us about her thoughts on Paul’s faith, her business and love for American Girls and God’s steadfast presence.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I have lived in NC my whole life, growing up in Christian home with my twin sister and two older brothers. I had a great childhood. We were always outside playing with our neighbors! My siblings and I were homeschooled but not overly sheltered, each of us had our outlets and activities and sports. I attended the same church my whole life. My mom worked on staff, so the church was my home, and I had such a family of friends there that I grew up with! My family would go on road trips and go camping and make such fun memories together. I was truly blessed!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I am seeking God’s help to be more disciplined. I want to steward my body and time well and not indulge in being lazy and slothful. I am working on surrendering myself to the Lord and relying on his strength to do things and not my own.
Profession/Mission: The Bible passage behind my art business is 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 which says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to other a fragrance from life to life.” This is what I desire for my business and my life, that I would be a fragrance that leads to the knowledge of Christ. That I would draw people in with Christ like beauty and loveliness and point to Jesus as the source of all of those things.
I first came across your page when looking at the American Girl art you do. What inspired your art (you are super talented)!: I grew up playing with American Girl dolls and they were such a special part of my childhood! My sister and I would get the American Girl Doll catalogues in the mail every month and it was just so exciting getting to look at the new outfits or a new doll that had come out. We had all of our doll things spread out in the living room, and I just have the sweetest memories of playing with them and dreaming about new outfits and such. It was due to nostalgia I suppose that I wanted to draw Samantha and Nellie. I am very sentimental and love reminiscing about childhood. I wasn’t expecting so many people to love it!
Do you have a favorite American Girl? My favorite American Girl doll is probably Samantha. She was the first doll I got, and my twin sister had Nellie. As an adult I think I love her even more and am obsessed with all of her outfits. I think they are so fashionable and fun to illustrate! I also loved all of Felicity’s things as well as Mia who was a girl of the year doll and a figure skater!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I am not sure about a memoir, but if I were to ever write a devotional, which I would really like to do, I would title it ‘What a Friend We Have’. A huge part of my testimony and my relationship with God has been Jesus becoming and being my closest and truest friend amidst every season of life. I’ve always identified with Jesus as being my friend more than anything else. In this friendship I have found the deepest of peace and love. It is a huge part of who I am and how I think about God. Jesus truly became my closest friend my freshman year of college. That is what I would probably base my devotional around and draw inspiration from.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I first encountered God in a real way when I was eight. I had become a believer when I was six, being led by the Holy Spirit to receive Jesus early one morning, but I experienced the overwhelming peace of God after a dark season of fear and anxiety. I was consumed with “what if?” questions and feared being alone and my parents dying, specifically my mom. A song that led me to experience this peace was “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North. The lyrics spoke directly and specifically into what I was experiencing, and I felt the overwhelming love of God. One day it hit me, I realized I was not afraid anymore. The burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew in my soul I had nothing to fear and I felt the overwhelming peace of God fill me and wrap around me.
How would you describe Jesus? I would describe Jesus as beautiful, gentle, empathetic, indescribable, steadfast, faithful, intentional, and personal.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Jesus has changed everything for me. Jesus changes hearts. He heals what is broken. He makes it possible for you to forgive and put others before yourself. I was created to be in relationship with God and when I am seeking and living in him, I am truly the person I was made to be. Without Jesus working in me I am selfish, prideful, quick to anger, judgmental, and bitter. With God I have experienced the joy of self-forgetfulness, the healing that comes with forgiveness, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? I have had many dark seasons throughout my life. The darkest I believe was when my now husband was serving at a camp for the summer. I went from being with him every day at our college to having zero communication for a week and then minimal communication for the remaining months. It was so hard on our relationship in so many ways. He was my best friend and the biggest blessing God had given me to remind of His presence and that everything is going to be ok. I was stripped from every comfort I had. Any sense of security I had was ripped away from me. I was so heartbroken and hopeless. I had a weight on my chest at all times. The depression I had experienced in the past reached a new level and I was on the verge of harming myself just to release some of the pain. But God showed me that summer that He was enough. When everything else is stripped away, God remains. It was the hardest and most painful thing I had ever gone through, but God showed up for me. He reminded me that He is all I need. That He is my portion forever. I experienced God in many powerful ways during that season. He is faithful and good always, no exceptions.
“When everything else is stripped away, God remains.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Being in a community of fellow believers has helped me in this season. I am in a weekly coed young adult group and it is the best part of my week! I am always encouraged in my faith as we study God’s word together and hear what God is doing in each other’s lives. The Holy Spirit is always so present in our conversations, laughter, and fellowship!
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): A book I am currently reading is New Morning Mercies devotional by Paul David Tripp. It is a daily devotional that is super convicting and encouraging. The Lord speaks to me through it no matter the topic whether it is about our need for a savior, the reality of the Holy Spirit in us, or God’s presence with us.
Top three essentials: My hydro flask because I am always thirsty, and you got to stay hydrated haha! My iPad because I am always drawing and illustrating. And my Bible because Jesus is my refuge and my life!
How did God speak to you recently? God has been speaking to me a lot through the sermons at my church. I love being convicted by the Word and having the Holy Spirit reveal what areas I need God’s help in. God has been reminding me that I can’t do anything in my own strength and that my value isn’t based on works.
Hobby: Hobbies I have apart from doing ceramics and illustrating are: arranging flowers, reading, writing, decorating, being in nature, and trying new coffee shops with my husband!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Make sure you have at least one person in your life who will encourage you in the faith and remind you of the truth. Always keep God’s past faithfulness in the forefront of your mind. Keep it on replay, dwell in what He has done for you and who He has been, and this will encourage your heart when your faith feels weak. Do not neglect prayer and worship music. When I have been in spiritual slumps and then turned on worship music, sometimes even standing and raising my arms in praise, the Holy Spirit has come and renewed my spirit. With prayer as well, physically getting into a posture of prayer by kneeling can be so powerful, and it will help you truly surrender and engage with God in an intimate way.
Favorite person in scripture? I would say Paul is my favorite person in scripture. His faith, passion, and love for the Lord have uplifted me so many times throughout my faith journey. I think we all desire to have a faith like Paul. He was never bound by his circumstances but always looked heavenward. Philippians has been my favorite book of the Bible for years. The whole book is just an anthem of faith by Paul and the deepest encouragement to all believers.
“I think we all desire to have a faith like Paul. He was never bound by his circumstances but always looked heavenward.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to know that God is always accepting, never judging, that he is gentle and kind, worthy of honor and glory, and that He is everything lovely and beautiful.
How do you engage with your community? The ways I engage with my community are through my young adult group and my social media. I love to post about what I am learning about God on my personal Instagram in order to dwell on God’s faithfulness and also hopefully encourage others.
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays. There are few things sweeter than the whole family coming together at our parent’s house, my twin sister and my two older brothers with their wives and our niece and nephew. My heart overflows each time we get to spend a holiday together.
A goal you have? The main goal I have for 2023 is to develop and release the official branding for my small business! I have been having so much fun working on this and developing a cohesive image and mission for my business!
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My family has a lot of Christmas traditions that we have continued throughout the years. On Christmas morning after breakfast and before opening gifts, we take turns reading the story of Jesus’ birth from a storybook, passing it around the room as each family member reads a page. I love how I was formed by this tradition growing up, to just stop and slow down and dwell on the true meaning of Christmas. Another favorite Christmas tradition is having Chinese takeout for dinner on Christmas Eve!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I would just love to know about what heaven was like before the creation of the world when the trinity were dwelling together as Jesus speaks of in John 17. I love thinking about how before the incarnation, Jesus of Nazareth was the Word of God. He had no human form yet. I would love to see and understand what that existence was like and the glory and fellowship they had with each other.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The first thing that comes to mind is just compassion. I’ve been especially tugged toward the issue of homelessness in my area this season. I am always reminded of just how blessed I am when I see someone with all of their meager belongings with them on the side of the road or in the middle of the street. All of my physical needs are met but they have no shield from the rain or the cold. It just makes me sad, and I try to lift up as many prayers as I can for them that they would come to know the Lord and that the Holy Spirit would be their peace and comfort. The world needs a lot more compassion and a bigger perspective about the world we live in. There are always prayers to be lifted for others and ways to give and be kind. I have plans to make some homeless care packages to keep in my car filled with small essentials that I can hand out if I am ever stopped next to someone as my way of putting an action behind these thoughts that I have.
“There are always prayers to be lifted for others and ways to give and be kind.”
What does your morning routine consist of? I wish I had a better and more consistent morning routine, but my ideal morning is making a cup of coffee and snuggling up on the couch with my Bible, journal, and devotional book.
What is on your nightstand? On my nightstand right now is a picture of my husband and I, a candle, a vase of flowers, and the book I am reading right now, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is not just a belief in Jesus Christ but living out that faith by the power of the Holy Spirit in you to be a light to the world.
For more Marissa:
Etsy shop: marissacatecreations
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