Dear Past Self

Hello Rachel,

It’s me. Yourself. From the future. Or I guess, if I make a copy of this then it could also be a letter to my future self. MIND BLOWN. Okay, anyways. Moving on. You’re 20 years old now and a junior at your dream school. No, you don’t have a boyfriend. And that’s okay? Sure. Let’s go with that. Anyway, you’re majoring in Professional Studies with an English emphasis. And guess what, you actually have friends. They actually care about you. And you didn’t make them just to gain popularity or to feel like you have some sort of significance in the world. God has helped you make leaps and bounds in managing your anxiety. It’s still something that occasionally rears it’s ugly head, and for that reason, is a bead on your prayer bracelet, but you know that quote that you recently learned from Princess Diaries, ” Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the realization that something else is more important than fear”? Yeah, that became sort of like your life motto. Not that courage comes from your own strength. In case you’re still too young to realize it, you’re totally inadequate in your own strength. In one of the Bible studies that I go to, one of my friends told the group that God told him that he was “a child of weakness, nothing more. But also nothing less.” I’ve learned what it means to rely on the strength of the Father, not completely, but more than you currently know now. And let me just give you a bit of a spoiler( like I haven’t done that already), it’s super great. Because of this, you decided to try out theater( totally out of your book-loving comfort zone, I know…but don’t worry. You’re still a total book nerd), which led you to be more comfortable trying new things in general. You ended up working as a camp counselor at that theater camp. And guess what, you went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic without mom and dad. God used you to lead 12-15 kids to the Lord. You spoke in front of hundreds of Spanish speaking kids, and, using a translator, presented them with the gospel! You did prayer ministry for ladies in the Dominican. You even did door to door evangelism. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone. I know that seems like a lot, because right now you’re trying to avoid anyone suggesting anything about sleepaway camp, which while you never do as a camper, you end up spending 7 and 1/2 half weeks as a camp counselor for at-risk inner city kids in Pittsburgh. Don’t worry, you come home for the weekends. But, Rach, you get to lead them on ropes courses and watch them conquer their fears on the rock climbing wall. You get to lead them on nature hikes while sharing about how nature relates back to Jesus. You get to sleep in a cabin as you listen to the rain falling softly on the roof. You get to help a little girl find peace after a panic attack. And Jesus uses you to lead six little girls to the Lord. Not only that, but the school that you go to is super great. They host Christian concerts, they have Unchapel every Wednesday( where you get to worship the Lord through dance, drawing, singing, etc. and listen to the Word being preached), you go to morning prayer on Weds, Bible study on Fridays and Saturdays, and you get to be a life group leader. As a life group leader, you get to lead lessons and events with your life group partner. You get to listen to the stories of the girls on your hall and be a good friend to them. You get to help them to understand the strength of God which you constantly have to rely on. So, I guess, I just want to tell you that while you may be burdened by anxiety right now and contemplating why you’re even alive, just know that in a few years everything works out. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the future holds for us with God in control.

Love,

Rachel

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Taking on the 40 Day Challenge!

Hey everyone! I’m excited to be blogging again on a somewhat regular basis. Let’s hope I can keep this up :). Anyway, this week I want to talk about the  40 Day Challenge that Campus Ministries is starting at my school. These next 40 days, our campus is being challenged to pray circles around the top 5 things that we want God to accomplish( inspired by the book The Circle Maker). In order to remember what we are praying for, we created a bracelet seen in the picture below between my Voice of the Martyrs bracelet and my Bethel bracelet:

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For me these beads represent: Freedom from Anxiety, Africa (missions, adoption, etc.), Future Husband, Purity of Heart, and Healing.  In order to remain consistent for the next 40 days, those of us with bracelets will be praying at 7:14am and 7:14pm, which is inspired by 2 Chronicles 7:14,”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I am believing that God is going to do some amazing things over these next 40 days, so I’d love to invite you to come along with me. You might not have a fancy bracelet (although you can always make one), but I’d encourage you to circle your top 5 prayer requests in prayer these next 40 days at 7:14am and 7:14pm with me.

Have a lovely day!

Rach

How easy it is to try to find comfort in worldly things? How easy is it to become so consumed by the cares of the world that we are numbed to the One that even matters at all? Recently, God has been teaching me just how much I have relied on the pleasures of the world to fill an emptiness that can only be filled by Him. You see, I am constantly reminded of my weakness. And I am constantly trying to drown out my weakness with busyness, the approval of people, romantic relationships, social media, Netflix…rather than going to the One that knows me better than I know myself. The One who, “knit me together in my mother’s womb”(Psalm 139:13). Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with a title for the season I’m in. Something about having a name for my season gives me this hope that I’m at least a little bit in control. I haven’t been able to come up with a name for it, until now. It’s a season of Detox; a season of removing all the idols that I have placed before my gaze, rather than gazing on the Lover of My Soul. And it’s been tiring. Painful. But also, extremely rewarding. I have begun to develop a deep craving that David describes in Psalm 42. I can relate when he says, ” As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” ( Psalm 42:1). This season was sparked by life group training this past weekend when I was introduced to the video YHWH. I would highly recommend clicking on the highlighted title. This video rocked my world. You see, before I watched this video, I was in relationship with God. I talked to Him. But, I didn’t realize just how much I was bringing idols into the relationship. I didn’t realize how much I would talk to Him, and then try to numb my hurt with Facebook or Netflix. Since watching this video, I realized just how much these attempts were cries out to the Father. In addition to this video, I also recently watched War Room. Although the acting was cheesy, it sparked my idea to create my own ‘Prayer Hut’ under my bed. This spot, complete with twinkly lights and cozy pillows, has become my prayer spot of choice these past few days. It has given me a spot to go when I am made aware of my complete insufficiency and of God’s strength. It was there in that ‘Prayer Hut’ that God told me He wanted me to blog more, so I’m obliging. I don’t know how often I’ll be blogging, but I’d like to try for once a week. I feel like God is going to be molding and shaping me a lot in the near future and I’d love to be able to share these experiences with you.

Thanks for reading,

Rach

15 Things I’ve Learned in 2015

Hi friends,

Hope you’re doing well and that on the second of January you are still consistent with your New Year’s resolutions! In case you were wondering, no I didn’t make it a New Year’s resolution to blog more. But none the less, you get two blog posts within a span of two months. Yay! Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this blog post. 15 things I’ve learned in 2015. A lot of these things I’m still learning, but I thought it would be good to do some reflection. And hey, if you benefit even the slightest from my reflection, even better.

  1. I can’t do it alone-  This year, God has taught me the importance of relying on Him and relying on the people He has placed in my life. This has been both a rewarding and humbling experience. One cool example of this, is how He used my Statistics class to develop solid friendships in my life. I absolutely hate math, but I had to take one more math class( even though I was terrified it would wreck my GPA). Thankfully, God brought three friends in my life who were willing to help me learn Statistics. These friends not only helped me to pass the class, but they also brought so much joy to my semester and taught me so many things.
  2. Cheesecake cupcakes are the bombdigitty– Click here for yumminess
  3. I should do things my future self will thank me for – An example of this. I am not a morning person. Anyone who knows me well knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my coffee. However, on Wednesday mornings I started going to morning prayer with my friend Brittany and it has increased my passion for prayer and has helped me to grow in my relationship with God. I am very thankful my past self decided to get up early and stay consistent with it.
  4. Camp counseling is an amazing way to learn to rely on God- I wouldn’t have been able to work this 6wk 24/7 hr job without Him.
  5. Have courage and be kind- Thanks Cinderella movie for that wise advice.
  6. Libraries are magical places– I’ve always loved libraries. But it wasn’t until this year that I really have appreciated having one on campus. Between the smell and all the spots for quiet seclusion, it’s an introvert’s dream.
  7. It’s okay to be myself. People will still like me. And if they don’t, they’re not worth my time– It wasn’t until this year that I was comfortable being myself( and I’m still working on this). I find myself socially awkward, weird, too quiet…the list of flaws could go on and on. In 2014, I tried to mask my true self by being as outgoing as possible. But my friendships felt shallow and I wore myself out. This year, funny enough, by being the person I thought nobody would like( myself) I have made or rediscovered the best friends I’ve ever had. And they actually like me for who I am( mind boggling I know).
  8. Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is poppin’– That means cool. This little devotional has been a great help in my personal walk.
  9. It’s okay to take time for myself– I don’t always have to be  out and about pleasing  other people or getting things done. If I want to sit at home and draw, I can.
  10. Graham Cooke knows where it’s at– His sermon’s are pretty long, but even taking 30 minutes to listen to them really boosts my spirit. Check him out at Graham Cooke
  11. Dance parties are key to relieving stress– With friends, by yourself, just get up and get movin’. I particularly like groovin to Where Are U Now ( Yeah with Justin Beiber. Don’t judge)
  12. Planners are key to success– I honestly don’t know how I would have been able to keep my year in line if I didn’t have a planner. This helps me get all my school stuff done and make sure that I have time for friends.
  13. God’s not finished with me yet– I don’t have to learn everything all at once. He’s more patient than I’ll ever be, so it’s okay if I don’t get everything right the first time. The key is to constantly remain teachable so God can continue to mold and shape me.
  14. I need to trust in God, even when I don’t understand– This is honestly something that I’m still learning and will continue to learn the rest of my life. There are a lot of things that I don’t understand. But, especially recently, God’s been teaching me that the most important thing to understand is the importance of abiding in Him.
  15. In my weakness God is made strong– This is something quite recently that I’ve been learning and will definitely carry over into 2016. So often, I feel that my weakness are things to be ashamed of. But God’s been teaching me that they are actually vital to my growth in Him. My weaknesses are constant reminders that I can’t do it alone and that I’m not meant to do it alone. I’m meant to do life with my amazing Heavenly Father who cares deeply about the intimate details of my life. And I’m excited to see how He continues to teach me to rely on Him.

Hope you have a fantastic 2016! I’ll talk to you guys again soon, hopefully.

❤ Rach

All the Rainy Day Inspiration

Something about rainy days inspires me. I’ve already wrote 2 blog posts inspired by them and I wrote a poem( which maybe I’ll share) and tonight, on this dark and dreary Eve my writer senses are tingling. I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for awhile now because I’m a perfectionist and have a hard time sitting down to write unless I feel that I have something worth writing about. And most of the time, I feel like I’m learning way too slowly to even have the right to share what I’m going through. Then, I read the book Captivating  which partially talked about the fear of sharing because you don’t feel like you have anything important to say. This is something that I struggle with, both in blogging and in real life. Sometimes I don’t say anything because I’m afraid I’ll say something wrong or what I’m saying won’t be worth anything to anyone. But that’s just what the enemy wants me to believe. My mom’s been praying for a spirit of boldness over my life and this last half of this semester, I’ve been learning very slowly how to do just that. I wish I could tie this blog post up in a nice little bow and tell you that I learned to always speak boldly and that I’m going to blog every week. But I can’t promise that. I do want to blog more regularly, but the only thing I can promise is that God is going to continue to teach me how to learn to rely on Him alone. And I pray that He’ll give me the boldness to share what He’s been teaching me with you.  So what I guess I could encourage you to do is this. Share. Be open with people. You never know how God can use something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to change someone’s life.

[Insert Clever Title Here]

Hey everyone!

I hope wherever you are the sun is shining brightly and it’s the perfect temperature outside. It looks to be that way where I am, at least from my window. Unfortunately, after a fabulous summer of working as a camp counselor and not giving myself very much rest, sickness caught up with me and I was recently diagnosed with an ear infection, sinus infection, and the beginnings of bronchitis. So I’ve been sitting since Wednesday( three days) and growing restless. But also wrestling with a few things that God has put on my heart. I’d been praying for healing since I’ve been sick for three weeks and I was starting to wonder why God wasn’t answering. And then He did. He said something along the lines of, ” You haven’t been doing a good job of resting in my presence. So I’m going to make you rest( by way of sickness)”. You know that verse in Psalms that’s super over quoted and goes, “He MAKES me lay down in green pastures…” ( Psalm 23). Yeah. Sometimes God just has to force us to rest even when we just want to skip around the pastures and roll in the buttercups. And for me, as hard as it’s been, this rest is something I’ve definitely needed. I often get so caught up in the busyness of my task that I forget to take time to love people and to feel loved by people. And these past few days, I’ve definitely been feeling the love. People have brought me food, frapps from Starbucks, took me to the Minute Clinic, prayed with me, or just stopped by to check in on me and let me know they cared. Some of these people were the least likely people I thought would ever care to see how I was doing, but God showed me that people can surprise me sometimes. So, while I’m super duper ready to be done being sick ( it kind of stinks to constantly be saying “what did you say?” like a little old granny since I can’t hear out of one ear or to start a coughing fit every time I laugh), I’m thankful for the lessons God is teaching me through this seemingly inconvenience.

Here’s to hoping that you rest before God makes you rest,

Rachel ❤

The Red Dress

Hey followers,

As Olan Rogers says, ” It’s been awhile”. I have a story for you.

This summer I’ve been working at the most amazing summer camp where I’ve been able to pour into the lives of at-risk inner-city kids and generally be used as a vessel by God. This past week I was able to witness two salvations, battle some demonic spiritual warfare, lead my girls( ages 6-11) into a deeper understanding of their faith, and witness some serious growth both in myself and in the campers and my fellow counselors. Needless to say, at the end of this week I was spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. But, I had it in my mind that I would go dress shopping with my mom for my school’s Winter Ball ( hey, it’s never too early to start looking for a dress). I also had it in my mind that I would find the most killer long red dress ever. I prayed before and during our dress shopping experience that God would find me this perfect dress, but after five hours of looking through a seemingly endless array of dresses from a half a dozen shops, I was starting to loose hope. This was when God directed my mom to a consignment store via a Google Search. When my mom suggested one more store I said, ” They probably don’t even have dresses. I’ll just wear my birthday suit.”  But, she convinced me to go in, and what do you know? Hanging on the outside of a large rack of dresses was the most perfect red dress. It was a long, red, halter dress with a twirly bottom and an open back which tied closed with a ribbon. There was also a beautiful sparkly silver pin on the hip. I said, ” It couldn’t possibly be my size.” And you guessed it, it was. The dress, the store owner and my mom both said, looked like it was designed just for me. And in a way, it was. God told me that just like there were millions of dresses out there and He knew and led me to the perfect one for me, even when I was getting frustrated and cynical, He would lead me to the right man. I’m hoping He’ll bring along this man to be my date for Winter Ball because I think that would be a perfect end to my story, but even if that doesn’t happen I still have an incredible reminder of God’s intense love for me and His great plan for my life.