Tuesday's With Jesus

I like to spend my Tuesday's with Jesus, what about you?

little boxes, and Hannah Montana lyrics.

About one week ago, I got angry at the world, at the people in the world, and the way everything and everyone seemed team together to build things up, just to tear them all down again.

If being a Christian meant I needed to reach some abnormal high standard in which I never messed up; if it meant I had to seem cutesy or hipster-y or some version of a “Jesus Freak”; if it meant I had to control everything about me perfectly; if it meant that I had to look like I was the best Jesus loving woman out there who was always perfect at everything she did… I wanted nothing to do with the God of that religion anymore.

Everywhere I looked, I felt that it was never about what Jesus had actually done for you, or them, or even me. It was always “follow these steps,” “take these precautions,” “watch yourself so you do not stumble,” and you’ll have a better Christian lifestyle, look better and choose to never mess up again.

You can’t feel God?

Pray harder.

Love deeper.

Serve greater.

Give more.

Worship louder.

TRY HARDER.

You still don’t feel him?

Your Christian life must be wrong, or dead, or something.

That’s what I thought I heard. Those were the messages blaring into my heart, and cutting wounds so deep into my flesh.

If I was doing something wrong, then I was going to rearrange everything I was and loved and believed in to make myself look just like all of the “perfect” Christians out there who seem to feel God every second of the day.

That’s what I did. I built walls that consisted of other people’s views of God rather than leaving them open to accept and give to God in whatever way needed. I nailed them down with the insecurities that the world and everything around me kept throwing at me nonstop. I thatched a roof on so strongly, knowing that was the part people would see the most. It had to look beautiful, put together, and perfect so that the rest of the world would know that I had my Christian life together.

But my loves, I will let you in on a little secret.

After all that time constructing such a “beautiful” little home for my heart… I have come to discover that it’s a lie.

We hear it told to us all the time, yet somehow it doesn’t really stick.

Nobody’s perfect. I repeat, no one.

If the outside of their little house looks as perfect as I thought mine looked, then the inside is probably just a big cluttered mess. A mess of hurt, and pain, and sorrow, and mourning, and loneliness. A mess of jealousy, or rage. A mess of not feeling worthy, good enough, or beautiful enough.

And then we look at other people, all we see is the outside of their little constructed home… but do we really see the inside?

After I realized what I had constructed, I felt suffocated and felt like I could no longer stay inside this perfect little house. Besides, no matter how hard I tried I still couldn’t get closer to God just because I looked better on the outside.

That’s when I realized:

I don’t have to work harder to find God, because he is already here. So when I turn my shoulder from him, he won’t have it.

I couldn’t stay away from him.

It started out as a little whisper, “I’m not done with you yet.”

Everywhere I looked, I could not ignore him. A friend prayed that God would reveal himself to me, and an elderly woman at church stuffed twenty dollars in my hand because “the Lord told her to do it” so that I would know God loves me, and I saw God in that woman.

I’m not done with you yet,” the voice said louder.

I saw God in one of my very best friends the moment she sent me a sweet text to tell me how much she was praying for me without even knowing what was going on. I saw God in the face of a four month old baby girl. I saw God in my mother, when she said the words “I love you.”

“I’m not done with you yet my little bug.”

The voice did not have to repeat itself anymore, because I finally understood.

He was already there; in the moments I wanted to construct my little home and make it look like the perfect Christian, and even in the moments I wanted nothing to dow with God, he wanted everything to do with me.

xoxo,

Rach

you are enough to shake every part of this world; you just have to be bold.

“You know what I really admire about you? You have such a bold spirit. If you decide you’re going to do something, you go and do it.”

I looked over at her as she said it. It was the first time I had seen her in a month, and nothing had changed. We still could sit and talk for hours about our Lord and what we wanted in this life. She smiled her joyful smile as she said the words to me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about those words all week.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have described myself as bold. I probably would have described myself more along the lines of a turtle, who liked to shrink back in her shell because she was so frustrated with her physical illness, and with the way the world treated it and the way she treated it. It felt like the shell of the girl I once was, had been stripped away the second I lost the use of my legs. I didn’t know how to be independent anymore, or passionate, or active. Not only did I not know how to be, but I couldn’t be.

So I painted myself a new shell. A shell that covered up the brokenness, and kept everything quiet. Every time I would be asked how I was doing, I would give a generic response.

“I’m doing great! My legs work now, so I can’t complain.”

I hid so much from the world. I hid my frustrations, and my anger, and my pain that I still felt as I tried to figure out who I was all over again.

Let me tell you love, I’m not hiding anymore. I may be broken and a sinner, but I am renewed and stronger because God works in my weaknesses. And when God is working, we are free to be bold.

This is a letter to you. You, who worry about what people will say. You, who worry that you might fail. You, who have the world at your fingertips but don’t know what to do with it. Stop painting layer upon layer over your shell. You aren’t accomplishing anything by painting your shell in the way you think others will like. Your shell is yours, so go decorate it and make it beautiful and unique to you. Or better yet, just strip off all the layers and leave your raw self and show the world that version of you.

That is the version of you that will shake the world. That’s the version of you that will tilt the world off it’s axis because of all the good you can do with who you really are and the love that will overflow from you from it. And the world deserves to see that version of you, babe.

So open up. Let yourself be bold. Show the world who you are, and open your hands so that you can pour out onto other people. Have breakfast with friends often, celebrate birthdays like they’re the only one you’ll ever get, and dance at any and all opportunities. But most of all, love. Love the world around you, love the people in it, and love the Creator who made it with every single ounce of your being. Nothing else will matter in the end, so go be bold with your love. I promise you, it will always be worth it at the end of the day.

I’m done hiding, and I want you to be done hiding too. Last summer changed me, in more ways than I will probably ever understand. But what I know is that I don’t have to wait on the sidelines anymore and cover up who I am. I can freely live my life and give every day one hundred percent. There isn’t a single day that goes by where I’m not grateful for everything in my life, the good and the bad, because all of it is what gives me a spirit that does not fear and lets me live my life boldly for God. You have everything you will ever need because you have Jesus Christ in you, and that is enough to shake every part of this world.

So go do it. Don’t wait around, and don’t worry about what people will think. You have all you need, and the world is your oyster. Nothing can stop you, and I believe in you.

“for God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgement.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

_______________________________________________

(For mom)

My mom is my inspiration for this post. She has shown me what it is like to live in a way that is boldly for Christ, and she doesn’t let anything get in the way when she sets her mind to something. And everything that brings her down, she allows to make her stronger and fight back even harder. Last summer, she wrote me a poem while I was in the hospital and I look at it every single day and I want to share it with you all because I think it can apply to anyone.

“June 22, 2013

Before: vibrant, independent, caring, passionate, active, strong

Now: broken, quiet, still, dependent

Future: renewed, determined, focused, stronger”

Thank you mom for your example, your words of encouragement & empowerment, and your unending love.

love,
Rach

they used to call me the “friend stalker”

I’m going to take us back today and introduce you to someone very dear to my heart.

It was summer in the valley… so naturally it felt like we were baking in an oven and it was only the beginning of June. It was VBS week at church, and I was a young little kiddo (I think 4 or 5). There were hundreds of screaming kids with popsicle stains on their smiling faces. The theme was “Amazon Outfitters” and I still could probably sing almost every word to the theme song to this day.

There was a drama, as there always is with VBS. And I, being the lucky daughter of the VBS director that I was, got the privilege of playing the part of the beautiful, blue morpho Amazon butterfly. I got to wear ballet slippers, and blue glittery wings. And every night, I got to prance around the stage in my outfit and I was so proud of myself.

But the point of this story, is not about how much I loved playing the part of that butterfly. The point of this story, is how I lived with open hands at the ripe age of five.

I remember, after that VBS, during clean up every single night I would talk to everyone. Mindless chatter, but I made them all my friends. I even named someone “friend”, and called him “friend” for about three more years of my life (sorry Nic!). I didn’t care who I talked to, what they looked like or where they came from. I just poured out as much love as my little five year old self could give.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up a little and that sweet five year old girl who was fondly referred to as “friend stalker” by her family was no longer there (though I might say that friend stalker is still a good phrase to describe me with, because I still have the deep desire to make everyone my friend. I just call them friend crushes nowadays).

Somewhere in the middle of growing up and putting makeup on and choosing what me I allowed others to see… my fists closed up. I didn’t want to give as much to those around me, I didn’t want to share what I had in my life with them, and I didn’t want to invite anyone in. I closed my fists so tightly, it would’ve taken an army to drill them open.

But that’s not the way to live life, and it’s not the way to live a life for Christ.

“…go live with your hands open wide, baby girl. So, that you can let God’s love pour into you freely and you can freely return it out to everyone else by the bucketful.”

These are the words I am choosing to live by this school year. And I want to urge everyone to bring back the five year old in them, the one that freely loved everyone with her hands open so big that she could grab the whole world with them and pull them into a great big bear hug. This world is lacking sorely in the department of love, and so we should freely offer it up as it has been freely given to us through Jesus Christ.

I want this so badly. I want to openly take what the world throws at me, and take every opportunity as God gives it to me. I want to latch onto those and say “okay, let’s do it!” and bring friends along with me on the journey. I want to keep myself open to receive the beautiful love of Christ, and I want to do my best to give that same sort of love to everyone I come in contact with. I want to talk deeply and honestly with those I love, and being transparent with those I am just becoming friends with.

It will be a challenge, but I think I am called to live this way for Christ.

So here’s to being five with popsicle stains on big smiling faces. And most importantly, here is to living with open hands and loving with an open heart. Go live, the way God calls you to babe, with more love than you know what to do with.

walking through the fog of Fear

It was one o’clock in the morning, both my parents fast asleep in bed and I was staring at the ceiling with my eyes open wide. There was a certain darkness that night that flooded into my room and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to make it go away. I tried hiding under my blanket, squeezing my eyes shut, and clenching my fists but nothing worked. I was trapped, and drowning in a fog of darkness so thick I wouldn’t be able to swim if I was some sort of superwoman.

It was a Thursday night. I had just gotten home from church where I felt connected and loved by dear friends. But for some reason, I felt like I was a ghost when I stepped into my house that night. I felt like anything and everything would go right through me, break me apart and leave me torn in pieces so small I wouldn’t even be able to tape myself back together. Why? Why did I feel this way when I knew I was so loved? And just like that, I was sinking deeper into the fog.

The more I thought about how I felt, the more frustrated I became. I grabbed what little hair I have in my fist and pulled and pulled. I clenched my fist and squeezed so tightly that my fingernails dug into my palms leaving half-mooned marks all over. If it wasn’t for the dead quiet of the night, I would’ve screamed.

In my head, I was screaming.

Someone help me. Anyone help me. Actually don’t help me. I don’t want anyone to see me like this because this is stupid and I’m stupid. I shouldn’t feel this way. My life is fine. I’m loved. But why don’t I feel like it? Why can’t I calm down? I am actually losing air. I can’t breathe.

My palms started to get sweaty. I was shivering, and I felt as though I might vomit at any given second. I wrapped myself in my striped blanket and walked slowly across the hall and into the bathroom. I curled myself up next to the tub and sobbed so hard I am still shocked my parents didn’t wake up.

I thought about everything. My friendships, and how I was probably failing them. My parents, and how I probably wasn’t the kid they thought I was. School, and how I wasn’t good enough at it. I thought about all of the ways I felt like I was failing. And then, I decided I was failing because I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom in tears. I must not be good enough for anything. I must be too broken to fix.

“God, what’s wrong with me?” I managed to say through choked sobs.

I needed an answer for this. Normal people don’t do this. But when I walked in my house that night, and I felt the darkness creep in around me like a thick fog, I panicked and I couldn’t catch my breath in the middle of it all. I was frozen in time, with a heart that was beating so fast you would’ve thought I had just ran a marathon.

Normal people aren’t like this. I told myself over and over again.

After a few more sobs and my last violent shivers, the feeling was gone. All that was left were tear stains on my cheeks, and a pounding heart. But I felt fragile. I didn’t quite feel like a ghost that anything could walk through, but I felt like a wall that might crumble if someone threw something so small as a pebble at it.

And so I went to my room, pulled out my journal and wrote.

I blamed myself over and over again for being a burden to my friends, for panicking, for feeling like I was suffocating in my fear. I’m sorry. I wrote it over and over again.

I’m sorry that I’m like this. I want it to go away. Just make it stop, please. I will do anything to make it stop. Why. Why. Why. What’s my problem?

It was ten minutes of pure Hell. Part of me thought I might collapse and die right then and there. The other part of me was ready to run away from myself as far as I could possibly go. It felt like I was drowning and I couldn’t get myself to the surface. I say that, and it sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I legitimately felt like I was on the brink of collapse out of terror. And unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time it happened. No, instead this was closer to the hundredth time.

Despite all the measures I took to keep it from happening again, despite everything I had learned, the suffocating fog came back in the middle of the night. It had been five months of mostly peace. And then for two weeks it was like this again.

Here’s my little secret, friends; it doesn’t ever go away. The fog of Fear never leaves me. I feel it everyday, and especially at night as I fall asleep. No matter what I do, it doesn’t ever leave me. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how closely I cling to Jesus or a certain scripture. The fog still comes in thicker than ever and clouds my brain, and I can’t breathe anymore.

It’s a really sad truth, but it’s the truth. I live with the fog everyday. The difference is the way I deal with the fog. I can’t just keep telling myself every time the fog comes in that I will try harder to keep it away, or that I will do better. Because it will never work. I am powerless in that way. And yes, Jesus is strong in my weakness and he provides the power I don’t have. And I fully believe that. For without him, I’m nothing more than that ghost from the beginning of my story.

But Jesus helps me see through the Fear. He helps me see through the Fear when it’s thin, and not a burden on my life. And those are the days, weeks and months that I feel free and joyful. But he also helps me see through the Fear the days when it’s too thick for me to see four feet ahead of me. Even though maybe those days I don’t feel as free, and I struggle to find the joy because I’m so overwhelmed by this constant thorn in my side… Jesus helps me see through it.

The best part, is that Jesus tells me it’s okay. He doesn’t tell me that I need to be better, fix myself,  try harder, change anything, or that something’s wrong with me. He takes me as I am, and holds me in his arms and tells me nothing but truth. The truth of his deep love for me. He holds me while I cry my eyes out because I can’t breathe into the fog, and he holds me while I pick myself up and walk through the fog of Fear every single day. He never lets me go.

I just have the choice every day as I look at the fog. I can choose to try and make it through without Jesus or I can choose to go through it slowly and painfully with Jesus at my side every step of the way. Some days, I will be honest… I tend to pick the former. But I almost always fall flat on my face in sheer terror at the mass of fog in front of me. The beautiful thing, is that when I choose the latter, I always make it out of the fog with a smile on my face. I may lose the smile for a moment, but it comes back because my joy comes from his deep love for me.

This is what it is like for me. It’s a daily surrendering to Jesus Christ, and it’s a daily walk through a dark fog called Fear. But God is always good in the midst of it, and that’s the part that keeps me going.

me vs. you; beauty is not a competition

I have been struggling to write this post for several months now. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has probably seen a couple of my rants about the definition of beauty this summer. I have been wanting to turn those rants into a blog post, so I’m going to try.

I hit my peak of anger on the topic of beauty yesterday. Someone posted an article on Facebook about the ever so talked about thigh gaps. (if I see another article condemning or praising thigh gaps, I may vomit.)

Going into reading the article I had high hopes that for once I would read about how women with thigh gaps are beautiful and women without thigh gaps are beautiful. Instead, I was thoroughly disgusted and disappointed.

Ladies, why do we constantly need to condemn other peoples bodies to make ourselves feel better about our own bodies? We have got to stop this horrible habit. We have turned the definition of beautiful into a comparison of one persons body next to our own. I know, because I am guilty of it too.

That is not beauty! I know this is going to sound totally clichè, but just stick with me okay?

Your beauty is not defined by your outward appearance. The Apostle Peter explains this so well in the bible.

“Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.” (‭1 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭3‬ HCSB)

I am going to take the liberty to add a little to that list Peter made for us. Your beauty does not consist of elaborate hairstyle, jewelry, or clothing. It also does not consist of your waist size, hip size, bust size, whether you have a thigh gap or not, if you have a round face or an oval face. It does not matter because you are who you are. We are all made uniquely, and that is the most beautiful part of it all. There is not another person on this planet with the exact same shade of hair as you or the exact same body shape!

Therefore, embrace the outward appearance you DO have. God specially created you to be you, and no one else. He did not create you to be someone else, and he did not define your personal beauty based on someone else’s!

To keep going with Peter’s words, his next verse is the most true form of beauty imaginable.

“Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.” (‭1 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭4‬ HCSB)

The inside is what counts. Your beauty is defined by Christ’s presence in your heart & your life. Our beauty is a reflection of Christ, and his glory. After he thought of you, he decided you were good and he said “you are altogether beautiful.” Simply because you were, are and always will be a reflection of God.

What a joy that is! True beauty is not looking at another girl and thinking “she has a great thigh gap and she is so pretty, I’ll never be like that.” True beauty isn’t looking at another girl and thinking, “she has so many curves and I don’t, so I must be better looking than her.”

True beauty is looking in the mirror and thinking, “God made me who I am and I am beautiful because of Him!”

So, now I have a proposition for all you ladies out there. Stop putting other people’s body types down simply because you are ashamed of your own and want to feel pretty. Stop putting down your own body because you don’t think it’s good enough to meet the standard of beauty. You hurt both sides of the spectrums this way.

I have a thigh gap, and I was born this way. But when I read an article saying “real women have curves and no thigh gaps” that really hurts me. At the same time, when I read an article or a billboard that encourages women to get a thigh gap, I have the same feelings of hurt.

Because ladies, you are all beautiful on your own. Each and every one of you is beautiful. You are beautiful because God created you. You are beautiful because God is within you. You are beautiful because you are you, and no one else! So please, start embracing that! I am begging you!

When you look at another girl and start to compare your body to hers, or when you look in the mirror and all you can think about is how unhappy you are with your body… tell yourself to stop. Stop thinking the lies, and meditate on nothing but the truth.

“You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you.” (‭Song of Songs‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬ HCSB)

God loves your body, and I love your body. God thinks you are beautiful, and I think you’re beautiful! Now it’s up to you to think it!

with love,
Rachel

life to the fullest

there are a lot of trees in this world. I know that probably sounds crazy or maybe funny, but it’s true. have you ever thought about just how many trees there are? just drive through the California mountains, across to Wyoming… and you will understand what I mean.

this is all I have thought of the past five days on my road trip with my dad. somewhere along the road, in between the mountain peaks and rivers I came to the realization that I am a tiny, tiny thing. we all walk around, thinking we are big shots in this world. but truthfully, we are tiny.

God made this gigantic world, full of millions upon billions of trees. He made oceans so vast, we can’t even look out and see anything for miles on end. and then, when he finished that… he made us. you and me. he crafted us so carefully, and then because just crafting us to be his beautiful children wasn’t enough… then he sent his son to come to this earth and take our place on the cross so that we could live.

he did all of this, because not only does he love us so much, but so that we may live and we may live our lives to the fullest. that we may live our lives so fully, we will consistently bring glory to his kingdom forever. he formed us, so that we may do good works. God cares about tiny little things like you and I, and he loves us so much.

that’s the kind of thing that blows my mind. and so, here’s to living life to the fullest it can be lived. because when I die, I want to know that I lived my life for God and for God alone.

drink you up like coffee

I’m obsessed with vanilla latte’s. I can’t help it. I love the way they taste on the tip of my tongue, and on weeks like this when it’s well over a hundred degrees and I can’t survive in my non-air conditioned home, Starbucks welcomes me back daily.

As I sit in the back corner of this starbucks, I think about all of the people who have met up with someone in this place. The conversations had, the gazes held by either two strangers or by two people who have known each other forever. Starbucks is lucky. It’s gotten to experience so many life changing moments inside one little place and each one matters.

This morning I woke up with a set of lungs that breathe. For that I am thankful. I also woke up with a set of legs that actually work, and a year ago they weren’t working so well so I guess I’m pretty grateful for that too. But as I look around me, and I see all these people in here who also woke up this morning with a set of lungs that work… all I can think about is how they should utilize this life they have been given and I should do the same.

God blessed me with a life beyond measure. And the days when it’s not enough, I just stop and think about the fact that he will forever pour into me because he did not die on the cross for himself, I can look at things a little better. So today, I have life. What am I going to do with it?

I want to drink it up the way I drink vanilla latte’s. I want to live deeply and experience things that break my heart and show me that there is more to life than whether or not starbucks makes my drink right. God gave me these lungs, I am going to use them and I am going to drink up the entire earth with these lungs so that I may love the world he created in the way that he so dearly loves us.

Go drink it up; the world, the people and this life God gave you with the set of lungs you woke up with this morning.

good news comes in the form of what?

For me, good news always seems to come in the form of In-N-Out burger. I’m not entirely sure why it tends to end up that way. I can tell you this; one of the best first dates I ever went on was at In-N-Out with the first boy I ever loved, when I found out I was going to Africa the summer before college I was in the drive-thru and when I needed a milkshake to cheer me up they always came in a palm tree striped cup. For some reason, this place always did the trick. It was almost like it was secretly full of magic. This is always the first thing I remember when I think about my story or my testimony and what I have learned in this past year, is that good news always comes in the form of In-N-Out. That’s exactly how I’m going to start this story tonight while I fly the last stretch of the way home from Dallas, Texas.

It was a day in January, or it could’ve been February. Either way, it was one of the very few cold months in the central valley. I had just finished up at the doctors office, oddly enough, and to cheer me up my first stop was of course In-N-Out for the delicious Neapolitan milkshake. The milkshake ended up not being the best part of the day. While I was in the drive-thru, I got a phone call from the college pastor at my church informing me that I was officially accepted to go on the missions trip to Kenya, Africa the upcoming summer. I could’ve cried tears of joy, for Africa had been a dream of mine for such a long time. Ever since I was a young girl, I wanted to see Africa. I received a drawing of a fish that the sponsor child my family sent money to every month once. It was just a small stick figure style fish, with the French word “poisson” scratched next to it in some graphite. That moment was the moment I knew I desperately wanted to touch, and taste, and smell the place that this beautiful boy lived. I could tell in every photograph we received that this boy, he knew joy better than any American I had ever met in my entire life. I wanted to learn from people like him. So the fact that in July, I was going to get to board a plane and fly my way across the world and see a part of Africa where these kinds of people live made me so filled with excitement, it struck down to the deepest parts of my heart.

$3500 seemed like a million dollars to me. Yet, that was exactly how much it was going to take to get myself from California to the Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa. I had such little faith. I had no idea how I was going to get the money to be honest. I sent out letters to friends and family, in the hopes that someone, anyone would feel kind enough to give me even so much as twenty bucks. I should’ve known, that God is bigger, because within two months I had every single dollar I needed to go on my trip. It was like he was laughing at me, saying “ye of little faith… don’t you know what I can do?” Yeah, I know now God.

All that was left, was to graduate high school and get my last immunizations for my trip and I was set. I don’t think I could talk about my plans for the summer with no less than the biggest grin imaginable on my face. Everything looked so optimistic from my point of view, because I felt as though I had the world at my finger tips. June 11, 2013 at 8 pm I walked across the stage in my gold cap and gown and got myself a high school diploma. I felt so free, and then two days later… that was the day I got my last shot in preparation for Africa. Bring it on, was exactly what I thought at the time. Some silly little shot didn’t bother me one bit.

The afternoon I got my shot, they had me sign some silly paperwork about the really rare and adverse reactions one could have from getting this yellow fever shot. To be honest, at the time I really didn’t care. It was a one in a million chance of getting something like that so I pretty much just signed the paper without really paying attention to the document or what the guy said to me. In retrospect, I probably should’ve paid more attention, but I had no idea at the time.

I had no idea that would become the day that served as the beginning of the most difficult time in my life. June 13, would change my life as I knew it. It started out as a simple fever, and then some vomiting, and then a continued fever that wouldn’t go down. Then it was one trip to the doctors, and a visit to the emergency room. I thought it would stop, the reaction to the shot. I honestly believed it would end, and the sickness would end. It had been five days of what I thought was misery. I would wake up at five A.M. with a 103 degree fever and vomiting like no other, but by noon I would feel completely fine so every day I thought it was over.

Then, Tuesday June eighteenth I woke up with a shock. First of all, this is where some details might be a little raw so my apologies if you learn more about me than you ever intended to but the story can’t be told without the details. I hadn’t been able to pee for three days. Three whole days of not being able to pee, should have probably been a little more concerning to me than it was but honestly, I was more annoyed with the whole five o’clock fever and then twelve o’clock healthy as can be act my body seemed to have. So that Tuesday, I woke up and I needed to pee because I thought that I might just burst. As soon as I tried to swing my legs up over the bed, that was the moment I knew something was wrong. My legs wouldn’t move. I don’t really remember being able to tell that I had legs still attached to my body, aside from the fact that I could feel them tingling all over as though they were asleep. So I was kind of hoping that the more I tried to move them, the more they would wake up. But I realized that nothing was making them move other than me grabbing them and swinging them over the side of my bed physically. That’s when I called for my mom. It only took about three hours, maybe four, before my doctor had sent me to Children’s Hospital because I might have a serious disorder. Just before I went to the hospital, my mom and I drove through In-N-Out so I could try and enjoy a milkshake. I probably took three sips, because I was fighting so hard to keep back tears. All I wanted was to get to go to Africa… but at that point, I wasn’t so sure I was gonna get to do it.

By eleven o’clock that night, I had five vile’s of blood taken out, been poked and prodded with various needles and catheters, and had a drill in my spine for a spinal tap. I didn’t have enough energy to know or care what was happening to me, and I couldn’t feel much of anything at all. What I felt was as though I was all alone in the world, and I had a lack of understanding as to why this needed to happen now. My nurse, though he was absolutely adorable, refused to give me a blanket because of my fever and it was the only thing I wanted. I think I wanted that blanket more than I have ever wanted ice cream and that is saying something. Unfortunately… I never got that blanket and that night was the start to a hard road.

I had to relearn how to walk, and go to the bathroom and I think for a moment I might have had to relearn how to smile. There were few moments I was alone, but in those moments all I could do was cry out to God how desperately I just wanted the pain to be gone, and I really could care less as to how he decided he was gonna do that. But whenever people ask me what the hardest part was, I don’t comment on the migraines or the physical therapy or the fact that I looked like an old lady when I took some of my first steps. The hardest part was going from being an independent seventeen year old who could completely take care of herself (aside from needing money from mom and dad here and there), to being completely dependent on other people for everything. After I had the catheter taken out, because my bladder was paralyzed, I couldn’t even control that. Half of the time, I needed someone to come change a diaper for me, and the other half it was a ten minute excursion to get to the restroom. Talk about feeling like losing your dignity. I didn’t even get to take a shower on my own for three weeks.

I spent two weeks in that hospital. Two weeks of learning how to depend on others, and most importantly how to depend on God. I thought I was in charge of all my plans, and my life. I was so wrong. I didn’t have control over anything, not even something as small as getting a full night’s sleep. That was the moment that I became acutely aware of how much we take for granted in life. Even still, I sometimes relearn the same exact lessons that I learned a year ago. I’ll catch myself complaining about something stupid and then put into perspective that my legs actually work now, and that should be enough good news for me. I still have to lose a lot of pride on an almost daily basis. But I have learned that God is more than enough. In the trials, and the joys of life, God always finds a way to provide. Even when it doesn’t seem like his plan is the greatest, he always comes through in the end. People try and talk to me about disappointment, and I have a deep understanding. I lost my dream, and everything I stood for in my independence. Sometimes, we don’t know the answers and that’s okay. It isn’t our job to know why… it is our job to simply hold on the the truth we know and trust in God’s ability to be God. I read a book a couple days ago, and something that stuck out to me was this quote about God, “He says, ‘I’m here. Waiting. When you’re ready to trust what you know… and not what you feel.’” Even if it feels like the world is falling apart and you are falling apart, and trust me I know what that feels like, just sit back and trust what you know. He is right there waiting.

I think I could write twenty different life lessons, and fifty stories about my summer. But for some reason, one year later, this is the one that always comes back to my heart. God is waiting for me, every single day. And I can depend on him for the rest of my life… that is truly good news.

love,

Rachel

Lessons for my Someday Daughter (by Taylor)

I recently celebrated my 20th birthday and I have been reflecting lately on all that I have learned in my short 20 years on this Earth. Although I know that I have a lot more learning and growing to do, I hope that my someday daughter would be encouraged by these words of mine.

Sometimes that the moments that seem the hardest are the times when you will grow the most. You will be able to look back in 5 or 10 or maybe even 20 years and finally realize how God was working in your life during those hard moments. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Take the time to figure out who your true friends are. It took me 20 years to get that figured out and I hope that it doesn’t have to take you that long. Simply put, true friends are people who know all of you and have seen you at your worst, yet still choose to love you unconditionally. Find those people and love them with all of your being.

Just because someone isn’t in your life anymore doesn’t mean that they served no purpose. Every person comes into your life for a reason. There will be people that you will clearly be able to determine the reason that they were in your life because they were such a positive light, but there will oftentimes be people that come into your life and maybe leave a path of pain and sadness. You might find yourself asking God, “Okay, so why did you even bother letting me meet them?” Let me tell you…if anything, He placed them in your life to teach you something. Whether it be about perseverance or loving the unlovable or what you DON’T want in a future husband.

Life is messy. There’s no way around it. Trust me, if there was a shortcut around this, I would have found it by now. In the midst of the mess, don’t push your emotions to the side. A wise woman once told me that if we don’t accept and fully experience our emotions, we cannot give them up to God. So, dear daughter, embrace every emotion and tell God everything. Every feeling. Every thought. He already knows it all anyway.

Always speak truth, not only to those around you, but also to yourself. It is so easy to believe the lies. That you’re not good enough. That you’re alone. That you are not loved. But, the greatest gift that you will be given on this Earth is the gift of grace, which is poured on you to overflowing. Never forget the incredible gift that was given to you. Because of this gift, you can be free from the lies that plague your mind and be reminded of the truth. You are loved more than you could ever know. You are more than adequate. You are covered in grace. You never walk alone.

You are not defined by anything except by Jesus. Not by any numbers, whether it be your age, your weight or your GPA. Not by your status, whether it be your relationship status, your Facebook status or your social status. The only thing that defines you is your lineage as a child of God.

I hope that you learn from my mistakes and experiences, but most importantly, I hope that you make your own memories and learn from your own mistakes. Glean all that you can from this life of yours and cherish every moment. I hope to meet you someday.

Love,

Your Someday Mommy

the truth about my heart

I’m messy. More than just messy hair in the mornings when I wake up, and more than a messy room I’m living in. There is mess hidden deep inside my heart, and it comes from the messy things I get myself into.

I get jealous, and I get angry. I harbor bitterness. I let dirty words come out of my usually clean lips. I allow my heart to get covered in a thick muddy layer of mess as I let the unkindness in. It walks right in sometimes, without even knocking, and stomps the mud right out of it’s heavy boots and into my heart. Unkindness lounges on the couch and puts its feet up on the coffee table leaving stains on the once clean glass top.

I try to go back through with the windex, and the 409 and a broom. I sweep out the cobwebs, the dry and cakey dirt on the floorboards of my soft little heart. But there’s always a lot left in the cracks, and there is nothing I can do about it. 

So I cover it up. I take all of the makeup I own and cover up the muddy mess and then put on a smile for the world so that others may think that I have it all under control. I walk down the sidewalk with purpose and a spring in my step, and I always answer “great!” when asked how I am doing.

Tonight, I’m here to take off the makeup that’s covering up my messy self. I’m not clean cut, and my life is not a beautiful, graceful thing like so many Christian girls will make their lives look like. There are days where I don’t want to get out of bed, and it’s not because I’m just tired. Most importantly, there are moments where I screw up and the unkindness sometimes seems to be a permanent resident in my heart, and that’s the hardest part to admit.

The other day, I was thinking about Easter and my messy, messy heart.

Jesus Christ died on a cross for me.

Just in case that didn’t sink in enough, I’ll tell you again.

Jesus Christ died on a cross for me, and he died for YOU.

And when he died, he carried all of the mess of every single person in himself. He let all of the unkindness, and the hate, and the bitterness, and the sorrow, and the tragedy, and the suffering inside his own heart. He let them all come in without knocking, and he let them all sleep on the couch and in the spare bedroom. He let them trudge in with their muddy boots and leave their tracks all over the smooth floorboards. He let his perfectly clean heart become tarnished by all of that mess, and he did it so that you and I would never have to be ashamed of the mess we carry. 

As I thought of this, I cried. Tears streamed down my face and I lifted my hands as I realized how victorious this made me. I wasn’t defined by my mess, but I am defined by Jesus Christ and what he has done for me.

I am new, I am clean and I am whole because of Jesus.

There is no picture beautiful enough to show how incredible that fact of life is.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.”

love,

Rach

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