A Life Lived Beautifully: Charissa Steyn
Each Friday I feature a woman who is living life beautifully for God's glory. Life Lived Beautifully isn't meant to be a great idea, it is meant to be lived. It is about Jesus, and it sets my heart on fire to see women falling madly in love with Jesus every day! Today's "A Life Lived Beautifully" feature is on Charissa Steyn, wife, mamma, missionary, and creator of the "Art of Adventure Journal." Charissa and I have never met in person, but the Lord connected us through the Internet. She has been an encouragement to me and inspires me to live on purpose for Christ! She will do the same for you. Grab a cup of coffee and meet Charissa! (and read to the end to get a coupon code for Charissa's shop!)
Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. :) What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?
Hi Ladies! My name is Charissa and I’m so excited to be able to share with you today! If we were all sitting together in person, you’d catch me sipping on some fresh mint tea. Currently, my husband and I and our two small kiddos (3 years, 15 months, & another due in February!) live in the Netherlands. It’s a beautiful, little town at the southern tip of the country called Maastricht. I’m originally from Seattle and my husband from South Africa. Here in Maastricht we work with an international church and also helped to launch Serve the City Maastricht, a non-profit organization working to spread the love of Jesus in practical ways throughout the city! More recently, we’ve felt led to find creative ways to build relationships with the 600+ refugees who make their home in Maastricht. I am mostly with our babies during the day but love writing regularly on our blog, life-coaching and having heart to heart talks with women, and just recently created the art of adventure journals which you can find in our shop!
What is your definition of a "life lived beautifully"?
To be honest sometimes my life doesn’t feel very beautiful. Many days life looks messy and my heart just the same. But that’s okay! Because I’m coming to realize that a life lived beautifully has nothing to do with keeping it all together.
To me a life lived beautifully means…
- Embracing the messiness of life, giving God permission to use even my brokenness, weaknesses, and limitations for His glory.
- Being vulnerable and open, welcoming God and others into my heart and home, giving myself and others the space and grace to be free to be themselves without having it all together!
- And trusting Jesus wildly in my everyday life, saying Yes to His little invitations to follow Him into the unknown.
When did you start following Jesus?
I grew up in a Christian family and started following Jesus when I was about 8 years old. I distinctly remember being baptized and giving my life to Him. But looking back I had no idea what a fully surrendered life was all about. Right after high school I began to slip into the lies of anorexia. Unfortunately, my love for running and healthy eating became an idol. I found my identity in my performance and appearance, a deathly cycle. The number on the scale, my running times, and the mirror told me my worth. I was alive, but not living in God’s fullness. Through this dark season, I knew I needed to change, but couldn’t do it on my own and frankly didn’t want to. However, God heard my very honest prayers and brought me back to life! From that point on my adventure with God took a turn- all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was love Him and love people, nothing else mattered.
What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?
Some verses that God uses through every season of my life are…
- Matthew 6:33 – reminds me of my purpose in life
- Psalm 139 – reminds me of my true identity and how loved I am
- Psalm 27- reminds me that I don’t have to fear (which I do a lot!)
How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with creativity?
Well, I never considered myself creative. I assumed that because I couldn’t paint or write songs that I wasn’t an artist and definitely couldn’t share the Gospel in that way. But that all started to change over the last couple years. I finally started to believe that God designed each of us, myself included, with an innate ability to display His Gospel creatively in our everyday lives. For me this meant I had to let go of comparison (everyday!), enjoy who God made me, and ask Him to help me be brave and actually use my creativity. In this season of my life as a young mom that looks like being creative in hospitality and in my love, making my home a refuge where people feel listened to and cared for, as well as keeping my heart open to others, being honest about life and my struggles in order that others will also be encouraged to do the same.
The Art of Adventure journals I created were also a huge step for me! Through making these journals God has set me free to be vulnerable with my creativity and trust that He will use it to bring others deeper into His heart. I believe there is nothing that shines the truth of the Gospel more clearly than loving one another. And there is so much room for creativity when it comes to this messy and beautiful art of loving people!
How did God direct you to create the art of adventure journal?
The art of adventure journal was birthed out of words that God spoke to me over 6 years ago. I was newly married and living in my husband’s home country of South Africa. I had just left dear friends, family, and a job that I loved for 4.5 years in Vienna, Austria. In South Africa, I felt homesick and depressed, struggling daily to find my place through all the changes. As I cried out to God for peace and direction, I felt Him say, “Charissa, what if you see everyday as an adventure. No matter where you are or what you are doing…” I will never forget God’s timely words to me that day. From then on I began to see life as a breathtaking adventure with Jesus, full of constant risk, and steps of faith everyday. Fast forward to now…God is combining my passion for counseling and coaching women, and the beautiful limitations of being a mother, through nudging me to design the Art of Adventure journals. A culmination of everything that He has taught me through living in various countries, learning to trust Him, and walk by faith in every season. It is a journal to help women see life differently – as an adventure with Jesus that begins right in their midst!
What is the vision behind art of adventure journal?
I’ve created several different art of adventure journals but the vision behind them is the same- to stir in our heart’s a hunger for real adventure with God, daring to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every single detail of our lives, traveling deeper into the Father’s heart everyday. They are guided journals with prompts and questions on every page to cultivate an adventurous heart of curiosity and wonder about Jesus- His words and His kingdom. There is also lots of white space (no lines!) in the journals as a reminder that this adventure with God is not neat and tidy but messy and wild. There are twists and turns and surprises and secrets all along the way. Obviuosly the pages of these journals are meant to be just the beginning, they are to catapult you out of your comfort zone(s) and into a wild adventure with Him!
What life lessons are you learning as a missionary, mom, and entreprenuer?
I love this question! If I could sum up what I’ve been learning as a missionary, mom, and entrepreneur it would be this:
- Abide with Jesus morning, noon, and night. Abide means to take up residence in and dwell with Him, not just in the silence of the morning (like I love) but even more so during the day. I am learning how essential it is to be aware and notice His presence while I’m doing dishes or folding laundry, playing with my kids or doing errands on the bike. This intimacy and relationship with Jesus is what nourishes me, fuels my creativity, energizes me for the day, and brings me into real adventure.
- Remind myself daily of who I am in Jesus. This releases me from the constant pressure of performing and being perfect. There are so many voices in my head and all around me, distracting me and numbing me from the voice of Jesus. I have to be intentional about stopping, tuning out the loud shouts of the world, and gazing into the face of Jesus to hear Him whisper what He thinks about me.
- It’s okay to not have it all together. I get down on myself a lot for not being perfect, for messing up, for yelling at my kids, or my husband, not being a good enough friend, the list goes on. It’s an exhausting way to live. I am learning the practice of not only accepting God’s grace, but taking into my heart and soaking in it daily- His grace is sufficient, it’s in my weakness that He is strong.
- Never stop taking risks with Him. It’s so easy to get comfortable with our lives. But I want to always be asking God what’s next, where does He want to stretch me and challenge me. It’s when I step out with Him that I experience life in all its fullness.
What are some books you are currently reading?
So many good ones that I’ve been reading lately… I devoured Emily Freeman’s book, “Simply Tuesday,” over a weekend. I think I highlighted something on every page! (I love everything she writes) I also just finished, “Your God is Too Safe” by Mark Buchanan and recently started “Bandersnatch” by Erika Morrison which I can’t put down!
If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?
I believe as a woman God created you with a hunger for an adventure with Jesus! He extends an invitation to you everyday to join Him, to step into the unknown, to leave fear and walk by faith, to travel deeper into His heart no matter what season you find yourself in. An adventure with God can sound daunting and you might feel unequipped for such a journey, but God has so much life to give you as you simply follow Him each day. You needn’t acquire more stamps on your passport or sell all your belongings, real adventure begins by saying “Yes” to loving God and loving people right in your midst. I dare you to see life with Jesus as an adventure ☺