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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

Is The "Thing" Burning in Your Heart from God?

By Carina Alanson

Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Carina's Story

When I was 16, my friend and I signed up for a summer drawing class at our local university. I can still remember how the sun glowed against the concrete buildings and gilded the leafy trees as we made our way across campus to our first class, the beautiful morning seeming to mirror the excitement I felt about our new art endeavor.

My enthusiasm was short-lived, however, because once we were settled at our desks inside our classroom and the instructor handed out the syllabuses, we learned that we’d be required to draw a nude model. Being the young, innocent Christian girls we were, neither of us could bring ourselves to immortalize in graphite all the nooks and crannies of a naked stranger, so we dropped the class.

I’m not really sure why after quitting that class I didn’t seek alternative options. But I didn’t. Instead, as I got older, I got busy with work, then college, then establishing my career as a professional counselor. Life was full, and I didn’t feel that I had time to pursue my art dreams.

Though buried, my dream wasn’t dead. The seed of that God-given desire was tucked deep in my heart, and when the conditions were right, it began to grow. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Instead of thinking about it every once in a while, I began thinking about it often.

I started to feel like Jeremiah, whose calling to prophesy was like a “fire locked up” inside of him and like “a burning” in his heart (Jeremiah 20:9, NET). I felt compelled to express the artistic part of myself, and I began to sense that my desire was something deeper – I sensed it was something God wanted me to pursue. But I still didn’t take it seriously. It sounded like a wonderful pastime, but I wondered about the value in spending time on art.

A turning point came during a visit with a friend.

As I settled into her guest room, her young daughter walked up to me and opened her hand. There, in her palm, was a gift for me. It was a friendship bracelet with the word “artist” spelled out in little black-and-white letter beads.

I knew right then that God was confirming this pull to develop my skills as an artist. It wasn’t just my own desire—it was what He wanted, too. That shifted how I viewed it – I understood then, if I didn’t get intentional about developing my artistic interests and skills, I would be setting aside what God was asking of me.

I began by buying my first paint set and I started watching art tutorials on YouTube. And after almost two years of self-study, I just recently (finally!) fulfilled my dream of taking art lessons and had my first session with a private painting tutor.

This journey of following dreams and desires God has woven into me has been one of those “more than I can ask or imagine” experiences (Ephesians 3:20). It’s been an adventure of joy, fulfillment, and spiritual growth, and I’m so thankful for how God has expressed His goodness to me through this creative calling.

Is there a dream growing inside you that you can no longer ignore?

Does it feel like a fire burning in your heart?

Perhaps your dream is something you’ve desired to do for many years, and maybe you’ve even taken steps toward it, but the circumstances of life drowned out your efforts. If so, may I challenge you to not let that be the end of your story?

He puts that desire in us for a reason. God leads us in many ways, and He will lead us to and through things that bring us joy.

A Note from Carina:

Do you want help discerning whether that thing burning in your heart is something God wants you to pursue? I’ve created a set of free journaling worksheets called, "How Do I Know if a Desire Is From God? 5 Questions to Help You Decide." Each page contains a question, an explanation of why that question is helpful, and a space to journal so you can prayerfully sort through your thoughts and feelings and make the best decision. You can access it for free here!


The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.

Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE resource, A Listening Guide + Prayer Map, which walks you through four heart postures to help you learn to hear His voice in prayer. This guide is a tool to listen for Him differently, and capture your prayer time in a new way, helping you know Him deeper and hear Him louder.

Learn more about each posture:

New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!

Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.


About Carina

Carina Alanson is a former professional counselor turned writer and artist who is passionate about helping women live with purpose and grow in their relationship with God.

She lives in the subarctic town of Fairbanks, Alaska, where she enjoys going on scenic drives with her husband, skiing, snowshoeing, watercolor painting, and reading by the fire.

Visit Carina's website to connect with Carina and get her free journaling workbook, "How Do I Know if a Desire is From God? 5 Questions to Help You Decide," plus other resources for purposeful living. You can also connect with her on Instagram and on Facebook.


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